Discectomy is surgery to remove lumbar (low back) herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. It tends to be done as microdiscectomy, which uses a special microscope to view the disc and nerves. This larger view allows the surgeon to use a smaller cut (incision). And this causes less damage to surrounding tissue.
Before the disc material is removed, a small piece of bone (the lamina) from the affected vertebra may be removed. This is called a laminotomy or laminectomy. It allows the surgeon to better see the herniated disc.
Discectomy is usually done in a hospital. You are asleep or numb during the surgery. You will probably stay in the hospital overnight.
Surgery is done to decrease pain and allow you to regain normal movement and function.
You and your doctor may consider surgery if:
You have very bad leg pain, numbness, or weakness that keeps you from being able to do your daily activities.
Your leg symptoms do not get better after at least 4 weeks of nonsurgical treatment.
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Results of a physical exam show that you have weakness, loss of motion, or abnormal feeling that is likely to get better after surgery.
Surgery is considered an emergency if you have cauda equina syndrome. Signs include: New loss of bowel or bladder control.
New weakness in the legs (usually both legs).
New numbness or tingling in the buttocks, genital area, or legs (usually both legs).