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Discectomy or Microdiscectomy

Discectomy or Microdiscectomy is when most of a herniated disc is removed from the back. This helps relieve compression or pinching on the spinal nerve caused by a damaged disc. A disc may become herniated due to age, injury, or trauma. When this happens, the jelly like inner material may leak out into the exterior causing a bulge, pushing against a spinal nerve. This results in chronic pain, weakness, sciatica and even loss of motor function if severe. In cases where the patient has more troubling symptoms that are not resolved by conservative treatment, surgery may be beneficial.

Learn what to expect from surgery

The surgery, which takes about one to two hours, is performed using general anesthesia. The surgeon makes a one-inch incision over the herniated disc, either through the back or front. Using a microscope, a tube is inserted for optimal visualization. A small section of the lamina and surrounding bone and ligament are removed to access the disc. The damaged portion of the disc is removed, and the site is closed with sutures. Removal of the damage section releases pressure on the nerves, which now will relax.

If the surgeon can make the repair using minimally invasive surgery, a smaller incision is made over the site, normally less than one-half an inch in length.

Most patients go home the same day, but some patients may stay overnight for observation. In many cases, patients get immediate relief following surgery or will see improvement within days of the procedure. Recovery takes about two weeks. Patients need to limit lifting heavy objects for the first month following surgery.