A microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive procedure.  It is used to remove fragments from herniated disks and release some of the pressure on the surrounding nerves. A surgeon will make a small back incision and insert a microscope into the back to identify and subsequently remove fragments of the herniated disk.

What is it?   

A microdiscectomy is a surgical procedure to remove portions of herniated lumbar (low back) material that are compressing nerves or the spinal cord and causes pain. A microdiscectomy uses a special microscope to achieve visualization of the area, requiring a smaller incision site.

What should I do to prepare?  

Before a microdiscectomy, you should tell your doctor about any medications you currently use or conditions you have. It is important to avoid smoking and taking certain medications a few days before the procedure. The patient should also expect to have an MRI, CT scan, or a Myelogram before the microdiscectomy.

What happens during the process?  

The patient lies face down on the procedure table and receives IV sedation as well as a local numbing anesthetic. A small incision in the back is made, and the muscles are pulled aside to see the spine. A microscope is used to visualize the nerve root, and often part of the facet joint may be removed to allow for better access to the nerve and to remove nerve pressure. The nerve is then gently moved aside, and the damaged disc material is removed.

What are the risks and potential complications?  

There are risks associated with microdiscectomies. These risks can include spinal or nerve damage, unsuccessful surgery, infection, and reactions to anesthesia.


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