Lumbar Discectomy

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Update Date 12/05/2020 . 1 min read
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Know the basics

What is Lumbar discectomy?

Discectomy is surgery to remove lumbar (low back) herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Discectomy for a lumbar herniated disc may provide faster pain relief than nonsurgical treatment. But it is unclear whether surgery makes a difference in what treatment may be needed later on.

People who have had either standard discectomy or microdiscectomy have reported similar improvements one year after surgery.

For many people, sciatica gets better without surgery. Treatment involves painkillers and rest, followed by an exercise program.

If you have a lot of pain, you can also have a steroid injection in your spine.

Why is Lumbar discectomy performed?

Surgery is done to decrease pain and allow you to regain normal movement and function.

You and your doctor may consider surgery if:

  • You have very bad leg pain, numbness, or weakness that keeps you from being able to do your daily activities.
  • Your leg symptoms do not get better after at least 4 weeks of nonsurgical treatment.
  • Results of a physical exam show that you have weakness, loss of motion, or abnormal feeling that is likely to get better after surgery.

Understand the risks

What are the risks of Lumbar discectomy?

As with every procedure, there are some risks. You should ask your surgeon to explain how these risks apply to you.

The possible complications of any procedure include an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, excessive bleeding or developing a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis, DVT).

For a lumbar discectomy operation, there are specific complications which are:

  • Difficulty passing urine;
  • Continued pain or numbness down your leg;
  • Numbness between your legs, loss of normal bowel and bladder control and, for men, problems with having an erection;
  • Tear of the thin membrane that covers the nerves in your spine;
  • Infection of the intervertebral disc.

It is important you understand the risks and complications before having this surgery. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.

Know what happens

How do I prepare for Lumbar discectomy?

You must discuss to your doctor about your recent medications, your allergies or any of your health conditions and before having an operation, you will meet your anaesthetist and plan your anaesthetic together. It’s important to follow the instructions about when to stop eating and drinking prior to surgery.

You should be given clear instructions to follow before the operation, including whether you can eat anything in the hours leading up to it.

What happens during Lumbar discectomy?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the centre of your lower back. They will part the muscles and remove a small amount of ligament and sometimes bone to get to the disc.

Your surgeon will remove the piece of disc that is pressing on the nerve.

If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.

Recovery

What happens after Lumbar discectomy?

You should be able to go home the next day.

Do not lift anything heavy, even if that is what your job involves.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most people make a good recovery and are able to return to normal activities.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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