Microdiscectomy is one of our most routinely performed operations and is ideal for keyhole surgery.
An old fashioned ‘discectomy’ typically involves making a bigger incision.
The aim of the procedure is to remove the loose fragment of disc which is pinching the nerve root and causing you leg pain (sciatica).
We preserve the remaining healthy intact disc because this is a useful cushion or shock absorber in your back.
I use powerful lights and strong magnification to enable me to perform keyhole surgery. This minimises damage to the tissues, reduces pain, and speeds recovery.
This operation involves a 2 cm skin incision down the back.
I gently separate the back muscles to reach the spine. A small window is made through the ligament and bone to get into the spinal canal.
I identify the disc herniation under the nerve root and then remove the fragment of disc along with any other loose fragments.
In my experience surgery is very successful with a 80-90% chance that your sciatica will be better, usually immediately. Back pain can be less predictable and may depend on the overall condition of your back.
Pins and needles and numbness may take weeks or longer to improve depending on damage to the nerve from compression.
About 5-10% of patients will continue to have some symptoms despite a technically successful operation to free up the nerve. This may reflect on going swelling and irritability of the nerve from being compressed.
In my experience there is a 1% chance of complications including nerve injury, spinal fluid leak, infection, bleeding and blood clots. These problems can usually be simply managed. Thankfully a severe neurological injury is very rare.
A recurrent disc herniation occurs in about 8% of individuals. This is simply bad luck but symptoms may settle without the need for further treatment.
Keyhole surgery is a big advantage and means you will be up and about within a few hours of surgery and able to go home on the same day.
Simple painkillers may be useful in the first week which we will provide.
I encourage an early program of rehabilitation from two weeks which really helps reduce any stiffness in your back and speeds healing and recovery.
You can return to work from 2 weeks or when you feel ready.
In my experience there is a good chance you will be back to all sports and activities within a few months.
I am here to support you before and after surgery and you can talk to me or the team at any time.
I recommend you read the comments from my patients of their experience of microdiscectomy under my care.