Discectomy is a surgery to remove the damaged part of a herniated spinal disc. A herniated disk (spinal disc pushes itself between the spinal bones) compresses surrounding nerves leading to numbness, weakness, or pain. These symptoms may radiate to your legs and arms. Herniated disc is also known as slipped, bulging or ruptured disc.
Discectomy relieves the pressure herniated disc puts on spinal nerves. Discectomy is now generally performed by minimally invasive technique that uses small incisions.
Performed under anesthesia, during the procedure, a small part of spinal bone and ligaments are removed to reach out to the herniated disc. Only the part of disc compressing the nerve is removed, leaving rest of the disk intact.
In case, the entire disc is removed, the space would be filled with a piece of bone. This would be taken from your pelvis or a synthetic bone is used while the adjoining vertebrae are fused through metal hardware or bone graft. Fusion is done in very rare cases.
When is Discectomy done?
When all non-surgical treatment approaches fail to respond and the symptoms get severe, Discectomy is recommended.
Recovery after Discectomy
The hospital stay is about two days. Fatigue and pain are normal to feel after the surgery. You will be on medications for pain while activity like walking and sitting starts within a day. You are restricted to sit for longer duration, or bend and twist your waist. Heavy weight lifting or any household chore should be avoided for few weeks after the surgery. You will be on physiotherapy for few weeks. Follow the doctor’s instructions.
Risks of Discectomy
Though a successful procedure, however it has its share of risks as below:
- Discectomy may not always work for all
- Little risk of damage to spinal nerves
- Reaction due to anesthesia
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