Microdiscectomy is a simple, highly successful procedure with rare complications. Approximately 90-95% of patients have success with this surgery. Microdiscectomy is generally recommended for those who have been diagnosed with a herniated disc and have not had successful conservative treatment. Candidates for this elective surgery have had pain for at least six weeks, in combination with a regimen of conservative treatment.
This surgical procedure can greatly alleviate chronic leg pain (sciatica), tingling and numbness (radiculopathy) caused by a herniated disc. It is recommended that this surgery be performed within a few months after the original onset of symptoms, because success rates tend to decrease after about three months.
Microdiscectomy, which literally means “tiny disc removal”, is performed through a small incision of about 1″. To reach the herniated disc, the neurosurgeon must move muscle tissue out of the way. Then, the neurosurgeon removes the special thick membrane that covers the nerve root.
During microdiscectomy, your neurosurgeon will use a special microscope to successfully move the nerve root away from the disc. This creates a window for the neurosurgeon to see the disc below. Then, the surgeon removes the herniated portion of the disc from beneath the nerve root and any other disc fragments that are compressing your nerve root. Sometimes, a small part of the bony structure of the spine needs to be removed to reduce pressure on the nerves.
The healthy portion of the disc will remain intact, enabling it to serve as the necessary cushion between the vertebrae.
Relief is felt almost immediately after surgery, although full results can take weeks to appear. You will be able to return home either the day of your procedure or the next day. Your neurosurgeon will not likely place you on any extensive restrictions. Microdiscectomy does not change the structure of your spine, so mobility is not usually affected.
As a matter of fact, you’ll be encouraged to get out of bed and walk as much as possible after surgery. Following microdiscectomy, it is recommended to exercise regularly to prevent recurrent herniation. If recurrent herniation should occur, it can be easily repaired with further microdiscectomy.