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Microdiscectomy & Laminectomy

Prior to Surgery

  • Talk to your doctor about any medications/vitamins/herbs you are taking as you may need to stop certain ones before surgery.
  • Let your doctor know if you could be or are pregnant.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that you may have.
  • You will have blood samples taken in case you need a blood transfusion.
  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), lopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood thinners.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • Do not smoke. This will help you to recover quicker.

On the Day of the Surgery

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.

After Surgery

  • Most patients will remain in the hospital for up to three days.
  • The surgical site in your back will be sore for a few days. Placing an ice bag on the site for 15 minutes each hour will help lessen the pain. Remember to use a cloth to ensure that the ice bag is not directly touching your skin.
  • You will be encouraged to walk as soon as you are able as this will help speed your recovery, prevent scar tissue and help return mobility to your spine.
  • You should be able to ride a bike or swim within a couple of weeks. Some strenuous activities may take longer. Increase activities slowly and follow your doctor’s advice on when to return to lifting or exercise.

Recovery: what to expect in the next few weeks

Most patients will feel better within a couple of weeks; however, do not lift, push or pull any heavy objects until after your doctor says it is OK.

Microdiscectomy & Laminectomy Q&A

What do these procedures involve?

Microdiscectomy and lumbar laminectomy are performed to help relieve pain, numbness and discomfort from pressure on nerves in the spine.

With microdiscectomy, the patient is placed face-down and a tiny incision is made over the location of the herniated disc. The orthopaedic surgeon uses a retractor to remove parts of the lamina bone so that there is a clear view of the spinal nerve and disc. The damaged disc is removed and is replaced with bone replacement material.

In laminectomy, the surgeon makes several tiny incisions to access the region. During the procedure, the surgeon removes a small part of the bone, called the lamina, just over the nerve root, and can also remove or trim disc material underneath the nerve root to allow for more space.

How long is the procedure?

Both procedures take about one hour.

What is the recovery time?

Recovery will vary based on each patient, but most patients feel better after two weeks and can return to work or school. Full recovery takes from two to eight weeks.

How do I know if this procedure will help my pain?

If your pain is caused by nerve compression, these procedures remove the disc, bone and bone spurs that may be pressing on the nerve. The surgeon is able to open up the region to give the nerve and nerve root more space, so compression is no longer an issue.