What are Discectomy and Microdiscectomy (Spine Surgery)?
Discectomy is a spine procedure to remove all or part of the herniated spinal disc to relieve pressure caused by compressed spinal cords and nerves. Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive spine surgery using a microscope to remove fragments from herniated discs.
How is it done?
Microdiscectomy may be performed under a local anesthetic combined with intravenous sedation, which means you would be awake during the back surgery. A general anesthetic may also be used. A small incision (about two inches) is made between the bones of the vertebrae on the back. The surgeon will then move the back muscles to the side. A flexible tube containing surgical implements and a high powered telescope is used to perform the spine surgery and guide the doctor as herniated disc tissue and fragments are removed.
Why is it done?
Microdiscectomy surgery is performed to relieve leg pain or weakness (sciatica) and nerve pain and pressure resulting from herniation of the intervertebral discs which have placed pressure on surrounding nerves or have herniated into the spinal canal.
Risks & complications
Complications in back surgeries such as this are infrequent and usually minor. However, as with any spine surgery, there are risks, including the possibility of:
- Nerve root damage leading to a sensation of numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs
- Tears to the protective coating around the nerves and spinal cord
- Re-herniation of the same disc
- Pain that persists or worsens after surgery
- Reaction to the anesthesia
Risks from any surgery can be reduced by following the surgeon's instructions before and after the back surgery.
The surgeon may discuss alternative approaches to the microdiscectomy procedure such as weight loss, medication to relieve pain, steroids, epidural (cortisone) injections and physical therapy. Alternative surgical procedures may be recommended.
Candidates for Microdiscectomy are patients with herniated discs causing irritation to the nerves of the spine. The surgeon will make the final determination of each patient’s eligibility for the procedure after an examination and consultation with the patient.
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