Q & A
What are the benefits of a lumbar discectomy?
Lumbar discectomy relieves pressure on the spinal nerves caused by a herniated disc or degenerative disc of the lower back. While we typically perform this procedure to relieve leg or sciatic nerve pain for our patients, other symptoms include weakness and numbness in the hips, legs and buttocks as well.
How is a lumbar discectomy performed?
Dr. Giordano and Dr. Nachwalter perform spinal surgery only in highly ranked local hospitals with their dedicated surgical team. Our surgeons usually perform lumbar discectomy as an outpatient procedure, so you will likely return home the day of your surgery.
During your surgery you will be lying face down and placed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will begin the surgery by locating the affected disc using a special x-ray machine called a fluoroscope. An incision approximately 2 to 4 cm long is made at the affected disc.
Once the skin is opened, the muscle is then carefully peeled off the bone to provide unobstructed access to the disc and adjacent vertebrae. A retractor is used to hold the area open. Next, an operating microscope is used to enable the surgeon to clearly see the spine and nerves when performing the surgery.
The surgeon removes a small portion of the vertebral bone and surrounding tissue to provide access to the affected disc. Working through this small opening, he then uses the operating microscope to remove all or part of the herniated disc that is putting pressure on the nerve.
Once complete, the retractor is removed and the area beneath the skin is closed with absorbable stitches. A small bandage is then placed over the surgical site.
To see how this surgery is performed, watch our 3D animation.
What can I expect after a lumbar discectomy?
Most patients go home the day of their lumbar discectomy, after being monitored for a few hours in a recovery area. You will receive specific recovery instructions from your surgeon and have the opportunity to ask him any questions during your post-operative appointments. At Atlantic Spine Specialists, our surgeons are personally involved in all aspects of patient care.
Recovery typically takes 1 to 4 weeks depending on your general health and the location of the herniated disc. It may take several weeks for you original symptoms to resolve as the nerve gradually heals.