Lumbar Microdiscectomy

Lumbar microdiscectomy surgery, also called microdecompression or microdiscectomy, is a minimally invasive procedure that relieves sciatica leg pain. This surgery is typically performed for lumbar herniated disc (prolapsed disc), and involves removing herniated disc material that is pushing on a spinal nerve root and causing neural impingement. It relieves pressure on your nerve and eases your nerve pain.

Microdiscectomy surgery with Ramsay Health Care

You can rest-assured you’re in safe, highly qualified, experienced and compassionate hands at one of our Ramsay hospitals.

Our expert spinal surgeons regularly perform lumbar microdiscectomy whenever clinically appropriate so that our patients can recover from their chronic leg pain quickly and get back to a better quality of life.

Our qualified physiotherapists can offer advice and treatment to help relieve your pain due to a herniated disc and for post-microdiscectomy exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles around your spine.

We also have modern onsite imaging services at most of our hospitals to help diagnose your leg pain.

What is Lumbar Microdiscectomy used to treat?

Typically, lumbar microdiscectomy is performed to treat a herniated disc, also known as a slipped, prolapsed or bulging disc. The soft centre inside a worn or injured disc can become displaced and push on to your spinal nerve. This compression of your spinal nerve is often the cause of leg pain that is symptomatic of sciatica or radiculopathy.

Lumbar microdiscectomy is typically recommended for patients who have chronic leg pain and who have tried conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medication, physiotherapy and epidural injections but haven’t found sufficient pain relief.

How does Microdiscectomy differ to Lumbar Discectomy?

Microdiscectomy uses tiny surgical instruments and visualisation tools that are inserted through very small incisions in your lower back to remove the herniated section of your prolapsed disc that is putting pressure on your spinal nerve and causing your pain.

Lumbar discectomy is open surgery to relieve your leg pain due to sciatica. It involves your surgeon making a large incision and cutting some of your back muscles to see your spine and then removing the herniated part of your disc.

Microdiscectomy is more commonly used today as it has a number of advantages including: being an outpatient procedure so you can go home the same day, small incisions, less injury to your back, less blood loss, a quicker and less painful recovery and, a lower risk of infection.

How much does Microdiscectomy cost?

If you decide to pay for your treatment, Ramsay offer an all-inclusive Total Care package, where a single one-off payment at a pre-agreed price, delivering direct access to all the treatment you need for complete reassurance. You can also spread the cost of your treatment with finance options available.

Microdiscectomy may be covered by your medical insurance policy. We advise you to check directly with your insurance provider and get written confirmation before commencing treatment.

Are there any alternatives to Microdiscectomy?

Many people recover from their leg pain without lumbar microdiscectomy surgery.

Initially you may try non-surgical conservative alternatives such as: managing your symptoms with painkillers, anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy.

If your pain is severe, you may try a steroid injection in your spine which can help to relieve your pain whilst the healing occurs whilst allowing you to focus on your physiotherapy exercise programme.

If you are living with persistent chronic pain that is affecting your quality of life then lumbar microdiscectomy surgery is an option.

What does a microdiscectomy involve?

A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible, although most commonly general anaesthetic is given. Microdiscectomy will take one to two hours.

Your surgeon will make a two to four-centimetre incision directly over your affected disc. They will insert into your lower spinal column a tiny microscope with a light and camera on one end, together with other surgical instruments.

They will part your muscles and they may remove a small amount of ligament, facet joint and bone that protect the nerve root to get to your disc.

They carefully move your nerve root to the side and then remove the herniated disc material that has spilled out of the disc.

Your muscles are then moved back into place and the incision is closed.

What complications can happen?

Complications during microdiscectomy are rare. However, like any surgery, there are some risks including infection and blood loss.

Other possible complications for microdiscectomy include: return of your pain, re-herniation of your disc, not all disc material being removed in the operation and, injury to your spinal cord, nerves and blood vessels.

Microdiscectomy recovery time

Most people leave hospital the same day or within 24 hours and resume their regular activities within a few days after surgery.

You can expect to be off work for several days to weeks, depending on the type of work you do. If your work is physically demanding then you will need more time off.

You should avoid strenuous activities such as heavy lifting and, bending or twisting at the waist, for about three months following your surgery. After three months you should be able to resume almost all of your normal activities.

You should follow your doctor’s advice about when it is safe for you to return to activities and work.

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