Removal of a prolapsed disc. This is done through a small (~3cm) incision in the midline of the lower back. Very little bone needs to be removed. In my practice an operating microscope is used in all cases.
Decompression of a nerve root for sciatica. The operation will not improve low back pain.
Bleeding, Infection, cerebrospinal fluid leak, neurological deficit including paralysis, incontinence (no bowel or bladder control), no improvement of symptoms, recurrence of a slipped disc at the same level. Overall, the risks are very small (<5%).
24 hours after operation in majority of cases but can be done as a day case.
Always general anaesthesia
The vast majority of patients (>90%) will have no leg pain or a substantial improvement.
The back will feel sore for a few days but unless there are complications, recovery is quick. Patients should refrain from sportive activities or strenuous physical work for about 2 months.
Commonly asked questions
What is the difference between a discectomy and microdiscectomy?
An operating microscope is being used for the microdiscectomy. This gives excellent visualisation of the nerves and surrounding structures even through a very small incision.
Personally, I only perform microdiscectomies.