Discectomy is a surgery to remove herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord in your lower back. It tends to be done as microdiscectomy, which uses a special microscope to view the disc and nerves. This larger view allows Dr. Walpert to make a smaller incision, which causes less damage to surrounding tissue. Compression of the nerve root tends to cause severe leg pain more than lower back pain, and while it may take weeks or months for the nerve root to fully heal and any numbness or weakness to get better, patients normally feel relief from leg pain almost immediately after a microdiscectomy spine surgery.
This minimally invasive spine surgery is performed through a small incision in the skin. The muscles of your back are gently moved out of the way, and the membrane over the nerve root is removed for better access. Only the herniated portion of the disk will be removed, the rest of the disc will be left alone. When the herniated material is taken out, the pressure on the nerve root is reduced immediately, which allows patients to feel significantly improved as soon as they come out of surgery.
Usually, a minimally invasive microdiscectomy procedure is performed on an outpatient basis with no overnight stay in the hospital or with one overnight stay in the hospital. It is usually a good idea to get out of bed and walk around immediately after recovering from anesthesia. Most patients go home within 24 hours after surgery, often later the same day. Once home, you should avoid driving, prolonged sitting, excessive lifting, and bending forward for the first four weeks. Following a microdiscectomy surgery, a program of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning is recommended to help prevent recurrence of back pain or disc herniation.