Patients with a herniated lumbar disc undergo microdiscectomy, which may also be referred to as micro decompression or microdiscectomy. By removing the material causing the pain, a microdiscectomy releases pressure from a spinal nerve root that is being affected by a herniated disc. By focusing the tissue dissection on spreading the muscles and ligaments rather than chopping them, the surgeon is able to minimize the extent of the operation and tissue damage.

In order to operate on the surgical field directly, fluoroscopic guidance is used to target the surgical field. Visualizing the nerve sac and disc herniation is easier with the help of magnifying glasses. Precision manipulation of tissues can be achieved with bayoneted instruments since they are not obstructed. Here is everything you need to know about microdiscectomy such as how the surgery is performed, its risks and recovery processes, etc.

How is the surgery performed?

In a microdiscectomy, pressure on nerves is relieved by removing the material in the disc.

General anesthesia is used for the procedure. During the entire process, you will not be able to feel anything. You will lie face down throughout the entire procedure.

How the process works:

  • The affected area is seen using a lighted microscope.
  • A small bone fragment protecting the nerve root might be removed by the surgeon.
  • In order to relieve the pressure on your nerve, your surgeon uses a scissor-like tool to remove the damaged herniated tissue.
  • Sutures are used to close the incision.
  • Typically, patients are discharged either that very same day or the following morning.
  • Consequently, any pain caused by pinching on the spinal nerve should stop now that the spinal column provides it with the space it needs.

What Happens During the Procedure?

Whenever patients experience painful pressure on the spinal nerves because of herniated disks or similar conditions, doctors often recommend microdiscectomy. It only involves a few centimeters of incision, compared with more traditional procedures. Muscles and other tissues are then carefully shifted with specialized tools. Following this, a tiny piece of bone is carefully removed from over the herniated disc.

The recovery time following microdiscectomy is far shorter than during more traditional surgeries, despite the fact that most surgical procedures sound serious when described dispassionately. Microdiscectomy is not a risk-free procedure, however.

Recovery time

Shorter recovery times are associated with less invasive procedures. Within a day or two, most people come out of the hospital.

Before you leave the hospital, you will most likely see a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. By following their instructions, you will be able to reduce the amount of bending, lifting, and twisting that you do.

To strengthen and stretch the muscles surrounding your spine, the therapist may suggest exercises.

You should avoid driving, bending over, and sitting for prolonged periods of time after surgery. Your lifestyle shouldn’t be impacted significantly, even if you can’t resume your normal activities right away.

During the first week or two following surgeries, it might be necessary to reduce your workload. It is important that you avoid lifting heavy objects for two to four weeks following surgery. This includes things that weigh more than five pounds.

As you return to normal physical activity, make sure to progress slowly. You may be unable to resume physical activity or leisure activities for two to four weeks after the procedure. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to recover fully.

The First 24 Hours

In spite of their shorter recovery times, microdiscectomy procedures still require general anesthesia and a significant recovery period. Medical personnel must oversee them carefully before releasing you to return home. The following will take place.

In the recovery room, your pain will be adequately managed as soon as you regain consciousness. You will be helped to get up slowly, after verifying your ability to urinate.

Patients usually go home the same day after micro discectomies because the procedure takes about an hour. However, if your medical condition is too serious, your doctor may recommend that you stay overnight in the hospital.

Two to 14 Days

After returning home, you will most likely experience many of the side effects associated with major surgery: drowsiness, fatigue, and pain. It is possible that you will be more uncomfortable over time as the initial post-surgical analgesics wear off.

In addition to instructions regarding your activity level and pain management, your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions. Care must be taken when following these instructions. You should not bend at the waist, lift anything that weighs more than a few pounds, twist your trunk to the left or right, and don’t drive a car while bending at the waist. Regular movement is important, and your surgeon may recommend taking a slow, gentle walk every hour or so. Staying sedentary may increase your discomfort and cause stiffness to develop.

Within 72 hours following your procedure, you should be able to take a shower.

Tape and glue can cause irritation at the incision site if you attempt to remove them. If your incision site becomes damp, be sure not to rub firmly on the area or rub firmly around it.

Having a fluctuating energy level is nothing to worry about. Major surgery often results in such fluctuations. For additional information about symptoms that might indicate a more serious problem, please see our “Cautions and Concerns” section below.

What are the risks?

There are very few complications associated with microdiscectomy. However, there are risks associated with any surgery. Among them:

  • Approximately one to seven percent of surgeries result in a Dural tear (cerebrospinal fluid leak)
  • infection
  • recurrent disc herniation
  • nerve root damage
  • bowel/bladder incontinence (very rare)

Cautions and Concerns

If you experience any of the following symptoms during your recovery from a microdiscectomy, you should contact your doctor:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Calf pain or swelling in one or both legs
  • Discharge that may indicate an infection
  • A fever greater than 101°F
  • Weakness or tingling
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Pain that doesn’t diminish after taking medication
  • Bright blood soaking through the bandaging over your incision area