A microdiscectomy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure designed to remove portions of a herniated disc in your lumbar spine (lower back) that intrude upon nearby nerves. Surgeons perform the procedure with the help of images from a thin, small camera called an endoscope.
Lumbar Microdiscectomy Basics
Like other forms of minimally-invasive back surgery, a lumbar microdiscectomy is performed in order to reduce the bone and soft tissue damage associated with more traditional open disc surgery. At the beginning of the procedure, your surgeon will make a small cut or incision slightly to one side of the center of your back, then gradually separate your muscle tissues until he creates a small hole that directly exposes the bone in your spinal column. He will then insert an endoscope into this hole and perform the rest of the surgery while watching a monitor that displays live, enlarged images from this camera.
Your physician may use a specialized drill to make a small hole in the spinal bone and access the herniated disc and its neighboring nerves. He will then remove the damaged portion of the disc, as well as any disc material that’s pressing against your nerves and causing your symptoms. After completing these tasks, he will remove the endoscope and close the hole in your back with a couple of stitches. The hole in your spinal bone will heal on its own over time.
Lumbar Microdiscectomy Discectomy Uses
People who undergo a lumbar microdiscectomy, or any other form of spinal disc removal, typically have herniated discs that produce pain, weakness or numbness that doesn’t respond to nonsurgical treatment; have progressively worsening numbness or weakness in their legs; have serious mobility issues resulting from their condition; or have pressure on a certain nerve cluster, called the cauda equina, that triggers leg weakness and loss of normal bowel or bladder control. Instead of a disc herniation, some people who undergo the procedure have a disc disorder called degenerative disc disease.
Lumbar Microdiscectomy Discectomy Benefits
Because of the minimal damage to bone and muscle tissue, people who undergo a lumbar microdiscectomy experience less surgical trauma than those who undergo more extensive procedures. In turn, trauma reduction translates into reduced recovery times and a quicker return to normal activities. Typically, you will be encouraged to stand and start moving around on or shortly after the day of your procedure. Lumbar microdiscectomy also results in a lower rate of serious complications during or after surgery.
Lumbar Microendoscopic Discectomy Risks
Despite the reduced risk associated with lumbar microdiscectomy, the procedure can still lead to complications including damage to your spinal nerves during surgery, breathing problems, infections, uncontrolled bleeding, adverse response to anesthesia, a dangerous blood clot disorder called deep vein thrombosis, and persistent pain caused by permanent damage in the nerve affected by your herniated disc.
SpineUniverse: Lumbar Discectomy – Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Columbia University Medical Center: Microdiscectomy
Mayfield Clinic for Brain & Spine: Posterior Lumbar Discectomy
American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Herniated Disc