Microdiscectomy (or sometimes called a decompression & microdiscectomy) involves removing a small portion of disc material from the nerve root to relieve any impingement and to enable the nerve to heal by creating more space. This type of surgery is very effective for treating referred leg pain, known as radiculopathy, which is often the main symptom of a compressed nerve root, however it can take months for the nerve to fully heal, so there may still be some residual numbness and weakness following surgery which should resolve over time.
This procedure is done under general anaesthetic and involves a one overnight stay in hospital.
A small incision is made in the midline of the lower back and the muscles are gently moved out of the way so that the spine is accessible. A small portion of the facet joint is removed to reduce pressure on the nerve root, whilst allowing access to move it to one side so that the disc material underneath can be removed. The surgery site is then closed with sutures and a small dressing placed across the wound.
As the joints, ligaments and muscles are generally left intact this surgery does not change the mechanical structure of the spine and rehabilitation should be uncomplicated, with a quick return to normal activity, however you may be advised to restrict bending, lifting and twisting for a short time.
The success rate, nationally for microdiscectomy surgery is about 95%, although some patients will experience a recurrent disc herniation in the future.