Overview and Indications
Microdiscectomy, also called microlumbar discectomy, is performed for patients with a painful lumbar herniated disc. Microdiscectomy is a very common, if not the most common, surgery performed by spine surgeons. The operation consists of removing a portion of the intervertebral disc, the herniated or protruding portion that is compressing the traversing spinal nerve root. Years ago, most spine surgeons would remove a herniated disc using a rather large surgical incision and surgical exposure without the use of a microscope or telescopic glasses, which would often involve a long hospital stay and prolonged recovery period. Today, many surgeons use a microscopic surgical approach with a small, minimally-invasive, poke-hole incision to remove the disc herniation, allowing for a more rapid recovery.
Most patients are able to go home the same day or early the next day after surgery. Before patients go home, physical therapists and occupational therapists work with patients and instruct them on proper techniques of getting in and out of bed and walking independently. Patients are instructed to avoid bending at the waist, lifting more than five pounds and twisting in the early postoperative period (first two to four weeks) to avoid a strain injury or recurrent disc injury. Patients should try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 45 to 60 minutes in the first few weeks after surgery. After sitting for 45 to 60 minutes, patients should get up and stretch or walk for a little bit, then sit down again if desired.
Patients are generally not required or recommended to wear a back brace after surgery. Patients may be issued a small, soft lumbar corset that can provide additional lumbar support in the early postoperative period, if necessary.