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What is a Microdiscectomy?

A microdiscectomy, provided by our surgeons at NeuroSpine Plus, is an effective surgical procedure that addresses pain and related symptoms resulting from a herniated disc pressing on a nearby nerve root within the spine. This minimally invasive procedure involves the meticulous removal of small disc fragments, bone, and ligament, freeing the compressed nerve. Utilizing advanced tools, imaging, microscopic techniques, and specialized instruments, our skilled neurosurgeons perform the microdiscectomy through a small incision; this is why it is considered a minimally-invasive procedure. It is important to note that microdiscectomy is a form of spinal decompression surgery, and it may also be described as microdecompression, referring to the surgical removal of bone or ligament causing nerve compression. However, the term “microdiscectomy” specifically pertains to the removal of the herniated disc tissue fragment responsible for the patient’s symptoms.


What symptoms are treated with a Microdiscectomy?

Patients experiencing symptoms such as weakness, pain, or tingling in your back area or leg due to a herniated disc in your lower back may benefit from a microdiscectomy procedure. However, it is important to note that not all cases of back pain can or should be treated with a microdiscectomy, and not everyone with a herniated disc necessarily needs this procedure. Your surgeon may consider a microdiscectomy if you have already tried, and failed, conservative treatment options including physical therapy, medical management, and/or evaluation by a pain management provider. However, expedited surgical intervention may be necessary if motor strength weakness is present, while immediate attention is required for patients exhibiting cauda equina syndrome. This rare condition affects less than 1% of individuals, impacting the nerves in the lower spine and causing bladder and bowel dysfunction.

At NeuroSpine Plus, we customize each patient’s treatment plan based on their individual needs and spinal pathology. 

How is a microdiscectomy performed?

Before your surgery, your doctor will provide you with instructions to include but are not limited to:

  • No eating or drinking after midnight the night prior to your procedure
  • Stop taking certain medications such as anti-inflammatories or blood thinners
  • Wash the surgical area with antibacterial soap the night before, and the morning of, your procedure

On the day of surgery, you will be given general anesthesia by a trained anesthesiologist. You will be completely asleep before the procedure begins. Once you are anesthetized, our team of experienced neurosurgeons and physician assistants will perform the following procedure:  

  • A small incision will be made on your back to access the spine. 
  • The size of the incision will depend on the type of procedure you are undergoing  
  • A small piece of bone will be removed to access the affected exiting nerve root
  • Compressive disc material will be removed, freeing the nerve root and spinal cord
  • Accompanying procedures may be performed along with a microdiscectomy, such as laminectomy or foraminotomy, to ensure adequate pain relief and sustainability 
  • The incision(s) will be closed with multiple layers of dissolvable sutures and covered with a dry, sterile dressing

The microdiscectomy procedure, performed by our trained neurosurgeons at NeuroSpine Plus, utilizes our signature minimally invasive technique to access the herniated disc and affected nerve with use of a microscope and specialized instrumentation. 

What is the expected recovery time from a microdiscectomy?

At NeuroSpine Plus, we encourage an active recovery process. We anticipate our patients walking upwards of two miles within weeks of your procedure.

The timing for beginning postoperative physical therapy sessions will depend on your specific physical condition and the expert judgment of your neurosurgeon at NeuroSpine Plus. Your postoperative period is monitored closely by our team, ensuring a routine recovery and resolution of your discomfort. 

Physical therapy is often recommended several weeks following surgery, as it aids in pain reduction, inflammation control, and strengthening of the back muscles, facilitating a progressive recovery

Physical therapists focus on helping patients strengthen core muscles, improve joint flexibility, and create a personalized home exercise program to protect the spine. It is crucial for all patients to gradually ease back into their previous routines, especially if their work involves physical labor. Even individuals with more sedentary jobs are advised to pay attention to their posture, take short walks, or engage in gentle exercises every hour to alleviate pressure on the spine caused by sitting for long periods.

When should you call your doctor following a microdiscectomy?

If you have concerns during your postoperative period to include, but not limited to the following: 

  • High fever greater than 100.4F
  • Change in urinary or bowel habits
  • Swelling or discoloration of one or both calves
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Incisional compromise
  • Loss of strength in your arms or legs

If you have a question regarding your initial postoperative period, a member of our team is always available to answer and address your concerns at 201-399-3388.

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