Lumbar Microdiscectomy

This is a common spinal operation and is performed for a lumbar disc prolapse (slipped disc). It is rarely ever the only option available for treatment of a prolapsed disc, and Mr Cass will have discussed alternative treatments before the decision to undergo this operation is made. The operation has a very high (90-95%) success rate in reducing your leg pain by over 80%:

This operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and typically takes around 1 hour.

The operation is performed through a small incision (typically 2-3cm) in the lower back. Its exact position depends upon which disc level is being operated on.

A small window is then made in the bone & ligament of the ‘roof’ of the spine and this enables Mr Cass to gain access to the spinal canal where the nerve is being trapped. The nerve is found and moved away from the prolapse which is then removed. The remaining disc is left largely untouched as it still has an important role to play in your spines integrity.

After checking that the nerve is free, Mr Cass will then stop any bleeding, wash the area and then close the wound with sutures. Almost always a small draining tube is run out from the site to drain any bruising from the area during the first 24 hours after surgery. The wound is normally closed with an invisible dissolving suture, and a dressing applied.

When they awake from surgery most people notice a great reduction in their leg pain almost immediately. Sometimes though, especially if the nerve has been very squashed by the prolapse or the symptoms have gone on for a long time, recovery can be a little slower. If you had weakness of any of the muscles before surgery these may also start to show increased strength soon after surgery, though recovery may take many months and even then may not always be complete. Numbness of the skin also can take a while to resolve.

You can expect to have some pain from the operation site, but the amount is very variable between individuals. If you are in pain, you will be given painkillers and/or anti-inflammatories. It is important you take nothing with codeine in after this surgery.

Most people leave hospital the day after their operation. Very occasionally some stay a second night. You can expect to be walking & self caring (able to wash, go to the toilet, make a cup of tea or a light meal) when you are discharged. Mr Cass & the physios will speak to you in greater detail about your rehabilitation. In general though you are encouraged to walk as much as you are comfortable with. Driving & travel in cars however is advised against for the first 4 weeks or so. Greater levels of activity will be allowed after your first review appointment.

Most people are back performing moderate activities and non-physical work within 6 weeks of surgery, and heavier activities & sport within 12 weeks.

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