Lumbar Discectomy

Introduction

The lower back or lumbar region is often the site of pain due to its high mobility and weight bearing. Spongy discs present between the vertebral bones of the spine help cushion the spine during stress and movement. These intervertebral discs in the lumbar region may undergo damage due to stress, causing them to herniate or rupture, and compress adjacent spinal nerves. This can lead to lower back pain, as well as pain, weakness and numbness in the lower legs. A lumbar discectomy is a surgical procedure to treat a herniated or ruptured disc, and relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.

Procedure

To perform lumbar discectomy, your doctor makes a small incision in your lower back over the affected spinal disc. Some vertebral bone and ligament may need to be removed to expose the disc. A microscope is used to visualize the disc and the adjacent spinal nerves. The spinal nerves are protected and the affected disc completely removed. The surgical site is then irrigated with antibiotic solution and closed.

Post-operative care

Following surgery, activities such as bending, lifting and sitting for prolonged periods should be avoided for four weeks. Your doctor will advise you about exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the lower back. You may be able to return to work in 2-6 weeks depending on the level of activity involved.

Risks & complications

Lumbar discectomy as with any invasive surgery may be associated with certain complications, which include nerve and spinal cord injury, infection and ongoing pain.    



HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL ASHPP PENN SIS AMA NASS aaPM&R ISASS - The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery