Microdiscectomy involves removing the part of a herniated disc in the spinal column that is irritating the spinal cord or a nerve root. For the right patient working with an experienced spine surgeon, it is considered a safe procedure with a high success rate.
Why microdiscectomy is done?
We perform this procedure in all areas of the spine; however, it is most frequently seen in the lower (lumbar) spine, which are responsible for sensation in the buttocks, legs and feet. This results in severe leg pain, numbness or weakness that affects the quality of life. You may be a candidate if you have had these symptoms for more than four weeks of nonsurgical treatment.
How microdiscectomy is performed?
The incision is only 1 to 1.5 inches. Guided by fluoroscopy, or live X-rays, the surgeon uses a special microscope outfitted with a camera and small, specialized instruments. Small tube-like retractors pull the surrounding tissue and muscle apart instead of cutting them. Before the disc material is removed, the surgeon may widen the opening of a bone called the lamina from the affected vertebra. This, process, called laminectomy, helps the surgeon see the herniated disc more clearly through the camera.
This type of procedure is minimally invasive and muscle-sparing, meaning healing time is shorter and post-operative pain are much more tolerable than is the case in traditional open-back surgery.
Many patients feel improvement immediately upon waking up from surgery and are able to resume work and daily activities soon afterward.
You and your surgeon will carefully discuss whether microdiscectomy is the right procedure for you.