Discectomy is a surgical procedure to remove herniated disc in lumbar or cervical region of the spine. Herniated disc compresses the nerves nearby and leads to either pain, weakess, irritation or numbness.
The vertebrae of the spine are separated by discs. These discs may dislocate or wear down. These discs then press on the spinal nerves causing pain, weakness or numbness. Discectomy is the surgery done to remove damanged portion of such herniated disc in lumbar or cervical region of the spine. Herniated disc is commonly called Slipped Disc or Disc Prolapse or Bulging Disc.
Not all people with herniated disc require surgery. Most of the cases can be managed with non - surgical treatments like medications and physical therapy.
However, the damaged portion of disc may need to be removed when it causes
Severe leg pain that is not responding to medications and physical therapy.
Severe weakness and numbness in lower leg that you are not able to walk.
Pain spreads to the hips, arms or chest.
Spinal nerve gets pressed due to damaged disc.
Problems with the bowel function.
The surgeon will recommend to
Stop any medications that suppress the immune system and cause thinning of the blood, 2 weeks before the surgery.
Fast for 8 to 12 hours prior to the surgery
Avoid smoking for better outcomes.
Discectomy is performed by a neurosurgeon or spine surgeon. Generally the procedure is performed as minimally invasive procedure.
A small incision is given on the back, the muscles are retraced and the damaged disc portion is removed. The wound is then closed with stitches/staples. This procedure may also be performed under spinal anesthesia. It takes about 2 hours to complete this procedure.
When the vertebrae are also damaged, discectomy may be combined with laminectomy, formainotomy and spinal fusion. A larger incision is made on the back, muscles and tissues are retracted, affected lamina bone is removed and damaged disc and disc fragments are removed. This is done under general anesthesia.
There will be some tingling sensation and numbness which will get better with time. Most of the patients will be relieved of the back pain. If there has been nerve damage, then back pain may persist.
Generally the patients are able to get back to normal routine in 2 to 6 weeks after the surgery. The doctor will recommend to avoid lifting, bending or stooping for 4 to 6 weeks.
Physiotherapy sessions may be suggested to improve strength and flexibility of muscles around spine.
Discectomy may be a temporary cure as the procedure cannot reverse the process that caused of disc hernia. Doctors recommend weight loss and avoiding extensive physical activity to avoid herniated disc.
Risk and Complications
As with any other surgery performed under general anesthesia, there is risk of reaction to anesthetic medications and also risk of breathing problems.
There may be excessive bleeding and infection may be caused.
The back pain may not be relieved, damage may be caused to spinal nerves.
It is also called as disc removal, micro decompression, and spinal microdiscectomy.
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Disclaimer - Results may vary from person to person.
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