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FAQs on Lumbar Microdiscectomy Surgery

  • Category: Back Surgery
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: DR. HAMID ABBASI

A lumbar microdiscectomy is a surgery performed to provide decompression for spinal stenosis. When a portion of a lumbar (lower back) disc herniates, the inner material can press on or irritate the spinal cord and associated nerves. This can lead to serious leg and back pain, as well as pain that radiates down the buttock into the leg, leg weakness, and numbness of the affected leg.

Who benefits from the lumbar microdiscectomy procedure?

herniated disc graphicBy performing the lumbar microdiscectomy, a neurosurgeon can alleviate a patient’s pain and allow the patient to enjoy an improved quality of life. While this procedure will offer significant relief for those affected by spinal nerve compression, it is not the best choice for everyone.

Patients who have severe degenerative disease will need a full discectomy and spinal fusion versus a microdiscectomy procedure. Additionally, because only a small part of the disc is removed, the patient has a slight chance for future herniation, which requires another procedure.

How is the lumbar microdiscectomy surgery done?

After being given general anesthesia, you are positioned face down on the surgery table. The back is cleaned and prepped using antiseptic solutions, and a small incision is made over the affected lumbar disc region. The doctor locates the correct disc and vertebrae using fluoroscopy, which is a type of x-ray guidance. A series of graduated dilators are inserted, separating the muscles. The tubular device is left in place so the surgeon has access to the spine.

The surgeon removes a small portion of the lamina (posterior region of a vertebra or spinal bone), and uses a laser or surgical tool to remove the herniated disc material. Using irrigation and suctioning techniques, any debris is removed from the spinal canal. After all surgical processes are complete, the tube is removed, and the incision is closed using sutures.

How do I prepare for a microdiscectomy?

Before surgery, you will meet with the back surgeon to discuss your options. Once you and the surgeon herniated disk graphicjointly decide on the procedure, the doctor will discuss the risks and benefits and have you sign a consent form. Because bleeding could occur, you will need to hold all blood thinning agents for 3-7 days before your surgery. In addition, you need to arrange to have someone take you home after you are discharged. You will likely meet with a physical therapist for an evaluation 1-2 weeks before your procedure, and you should arrange to have someone help out at home for a couple of days once you are released from the hospital.

What is recovery like after a microdiscectomy?

Following your surgery, you are monitored in the recovery room for 1-2 hours. Once you are alert, awake, and stable, you are moved to a hospital room for overnight stay. The physical therapist will work with you on getting in and out of bed and using a walking assistive device. After going home, you continue to meet with the therapist to improve strength and flexibility.

What is the success rate of a lumbar microdiscectomy?

In a recent prospective study, researchers evaluated surgical outcomes of lumbar microdisccectomy in young, active patients. All patients had single-level lumbar microdiscectomies and were followed for 3 years. At the final follow-up, researchers found that the procedure had an 84% success rate, with most patients returning to unrestricted military duty. In addition, 80% of patient had a significant decrease in pain. Overall, 85% of people said they were very satisfied with their surgery.

Inspired Spine’s surgeons offer the latest in minimally invasive keyhole spine surgery, which may include microdiscectomy, spinal fusion and more. Call us today to get help close to you!


Dewing CB, Provencher MT, Riffenburgh RH, et al. (2008). The outcomes of lumbar microdiscectomy in a young, active population: correlation by herniation type and level. Spine, 33(1), 33-38.