What is Lumbar Microdiscectomy?
Before we get into Lumbar microdiscectomy, let us understand what a herniated disc is. A herniated disc occurs when the gel filled nucleus escapes from the disc annulus and compresses the spinal nerve. This causes swelling and pain. The condition can be very painful and needs to be treated immediately. Removal of the herniated disc is often the solution and is made possible through microdiscectomy.
This process of removing the degenerative disc is known as Lumbar microdiscectomy. It is advised if physical therapy and medication fail to control the condition. Discectomy is the process of cutting the disc out and can be removed from anywhere between the neck to the lower back (Lumbar).
The surgeon accesses the spinal cord through the Lamina and retracts the spinal nerve to one side. Depending on the severity and case one or more discs may be removed. There are multiple ways to perform the surgery.
While an open surgery involves larger incisions and muscle retraction, it usually needs more recovery time. Surgeries involving smaller incisions are known as microendoscopic discectomy. In this process, the surgeon uses visual tools and micro instruments to remove the disc. Dilators are used to tunnel through the spine and treat the affected area. This process takes lesser recovery time and is usually less painful.
When should one get a microdiscectomy?
One should consider getting the procedure done in one of the following cases:
- If medical diagnosis such as an MRI or CT scan shows one or more herniated discs.
- Noticeable pain or numbness in your spine running down to your feet or legs.
- If one has been undergoing physical therapy or medication but sees no signs of improvement in the pain or uncomfort.
- Pain in the legs is significantly more as compared to the back.
- Loss of feeling in the genital area or poor control over your bladder and bowel movements.
Lumbar microdiscectomy is often prescribed to treat one of the two following conditions:
- Bulging or herniated disc: As discussed earlier, when the gel escapes through the annulus, it puts pressure on the spinal nerve causing pain. In this case, a part of the disc needs to be removed to prevent further damage.
- Degenerative disc disease: Due to wearing out of the discs, the joints inflame and the bones lose form. Eventually the discs dry out and lose its cushioning. This causes disc herniation or stenosis. It can be treated using discectomy.
How is the surgery performed?
A microdiscectomy aims to eliminate the disc material pressing against the nerves.
The surgery is carried out while entirely unconscious. Throughout the entire procedure, you won’t be conscious and unable to feel anything. The patient is lying face down during the surgery. It is how it happens:
- An incision between 1 and 1 1/2 inches long will be created across the troubled disc.
- Your surgeon uses a lighted microscope to see the injured region.
- The surgeon may remove a tiny piece of the bone surrounding the root nerve.
- Your surgeon will cut away the injured herniated tissue using a device resembling scissors to release the pressure on the nerve.
- Sutures are used to seal the incision.
- The patient is typically released that day or the following morning.
- Since the spinal nerve has the room it needs inside the spinal column, any pain brought on by the nerve being pinched should go away.
Compared to other, more intrusive operations, the recovery period is shorter. Most patients can anticipate being discharged from the hospital the same day or within 24 hours.
Before leaving the hospital, you’ll probably meet with physical and occupational therapists. You will receive guidance from these therapists on how to lessen the bending, lifting, and twisting you perform with your back.
The therapist could suggest some exercises for you to do to strengthen and stretch the muscles that surround your spine.
Driving, sitting down, carrying anything heavy, and bending over should all be avoided just after surgery. Although you won’t be able to return to your regular activities immediately, there shouldn’t be a significant change in your way of life.
You might need to take the first week or two off from work to rest or minimize your workload. Additionally, it would help if you refrained from lifting anything heavy for two to four weeks later the procedure. Anything weighing more than 5 pounds falls under this category.
You might also need to work back to your regular physical activities gradually. For two to four weeks following the treatment, you might not be able to start exercising again or engaging in physical activities. About 6 weeks is the average amount of time for a full recovery.
Cost of getting a Lumbar Microdiscectomy
There is a huge variation in lumbar microdiscectomy cost in different countries. There are different factors that need to be taken into consideration while calculating lumbar microdiscectomy costs such as recovery and rehabilitation time. The cost in developed nations like the USA and UK varies between USD 30,000 to 60,000. In Thailand, Singapore, and India it varies from USD 3000 to 11,500.
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