Lumbar Microdiscectomy – Patient Information Sheet


Lumbar Microdiscectomy – Patient Information Sheet


Lumbar microdiscectomy is basically an operation on the lumbar spine, performed using a surgical microscope and microsurgical techniques. This particular surgical procedure requires only a very small incision. The only portion removed is that part of the ruptured disc that is pinching one or more of the spinal nerve roots. Besides, the recovery time for this form of surgery is quite less than that required for lumbar surgery.

Application and Uses

The lumbar microdiscectomy process is a highly specialized form of surgery and is performed only when certain specific criterion are met. This surgical option is most commonly adopted for a lumbar disc prolapse, which is a protrusion of a part of the lumbar disc. When the protrusion presses against one of the nerves in the back, the pain, also known as sciatica, begins to radiate down the leg.

This condition is also referred to as a protruding disc, herniated disc, ruptured disc, collapsed disc and a slipped disc.

The most common criteria which necessitate the lumbar microdiscectomy procedure include:

  • Leg pain, which limits your normal daily activities
  • Weakness in the legs or feet
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Impaired bowel or bladder function


The Procedure

The procedure for lumbar microdiscectomy follows a series of specific steps for its application. Here we’ve briefly listed all the basic steps involved in this surgical procedure.

Step I – Incision

Once in the operating room, a small incision is made into the lower back in order to start the procedure. This opening is basically made to enable the surgeon to insert the microsurgical instruments for the procedure.

Step II – Approaching the pinched nerve

Using diagnostic studies, the surgeon then begins to remove a small portion of the bony material from the back of the vertebra. Once this material is removed, the surgeon is then able to locate the exact point where the nerve root is being pinched.

Step III – Cause of the Pressure: Identification

Once the surgeon has been able to pinpoint the pinched nerve, it is then possible to gauge the extent of the pressure on the nerve. Using microsurgical procedures, the surgeon removes the ruptured portion of the disc along with any other disc fragments that have been broken from the disc.

Step IV – Closing the incision

The procedure is finally complete when each layer of the incision is closed with suture material or surgical staples. In a situation where the outer incision is closed with staples or non-absorbable suture or stitches, then these will have to be removed once the incision has healed.

Post-Surgery Conditions

Generally, an intravenous drip is inserted during the procedure that is expected to provide pain relief for the first 48 hours or so. Follow-up medications in the form of tablets and injections are also administered, if required. Some patients also find a few sessions of physiotherapy extremely useful as a follow-up treatment.

In addition, majority of the patients do not experience bowel action until four or five days after the surgery. Other side effects are also common, though they are rarely serious. Damage to one or more of the nerves traveling through the spinal canal is one of the potential complications that can occur.