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Lumbar Microdiscectomy

Discectomy is surgery to remove the damaged portion of a disc in the spine that pushes the soft center out of the hard outer covering. A herniated disc can irritate or suppress nearby nerves.

The doctor may recommend discectomy if nonsurgical treatments have not worked or if symptoms worsen. There are several ways to do a discectomy. Most surgeons choose to perform a discectomy using small incisions and a microscope or small video camera to view the procedure.

The doctor may recommend discectomy :

  • If nerve weakness causes difficulty standing or walking

  • Conservative treatment, such as physical therapy or steroid injections, fails to improve symptoms after 6 to 12 weeks.

  • If the pain spreads to the buttocks, legs, arms or chest and becomes unmanageable

During discectomy

Surgeons usually perform discectomy using general anesthesia, so you won't be awake during the procedure. Ideally, only the part of the disc that is pinching the nerve is removed. However, a small amount of spinal bone and ligament may need to be removed to reach the herniated disc.

If the entire disc needs to be removed, your surgeon may need to fill the cavity with a piece of bone from a deceased donor or your own pelvis, or with a synthetic bone substitute.

After discectomy

After the surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room where the medical team monitors for complications from the surgery and anesthesia. You can go home on the day of the surgery. However, a short hospital stay may be required.

You can return to work in 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the amount of lifting, walking and sitting you do. If you have a job that involves heavy lifting or operating heavy machinery, you may need to wait 6 to 8 weeks before returning to work.

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