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Back surgery is scary. It is a very serious decision. If you or someone you love has come to that point in their life, I am sorry. But, there may be hope. Surgery is not always necessary regardless of what the surgeon may have told you. There have been many times that patients have come in to our office and told me that they were told, that they needed surgery and we were able to help them . If you are considering surgery, you might just want to give us a call first. I will personally sit down and talk to you about your needs and let you know if I believe I can help you. The consultation is free.
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A discectomy is a surgery done to remove a herniated disc from the spinal canal. When a disc herniation occurs, a fragment of the normal spinal disc is dislodged. This fragment may press against the spinal cord or the nerves that surround the spinal cord. This pressure causes the symptoms that are characteristic of herniated discs.
The surgical treatment of a herniated disc is to remove the fragment of spinal disc that is causing the pressure on the nerve. This procedure is called a discectomy. The traditional surgery is called an open discectomy. An open discectomy is a procedure where the surgeon uses a small incision and looks at the actual herniated disc in order to remove the disc and relieve the pressure on the nerve.
How is a discectomy performed?
A discectomy is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure takes about an hour, depending on the extent of the disc herniation, the size of the patient, and other factors. A discectomy is done with the patient lying face down, and the back pointing upwards.
In order to remove the fragment of herniated disc, your surgeon will make an incision over the center of your back. Your surgeon then dissects the muscles away from the bone of your spine. The surgeon removes a small amount of bone and ligament from the back of the spine. This part of the procedure is called a laminoto
Once this bone and ligament is removed, your surgeon can see, the spinal nerves. Once the disc herniation is found, the herniated disc fragment is removed. Depending on the appearance and the condition of the remaining disc, more disc fragments may be removed in hopes of avoiding another fragment of disc from herniating in the future. Once the disc has been cleaned out from the area around the nerves, the incision is closed and a bandage is applied.
What is the recovery from a discectomy?
It is not unusual for these symptoms to take several weeks to months to slowly dissipate. Pain around the incision is common, but usually well controlled with oral pain drugs. Patients often spend one night in the hospital, but are usually then discharged the following day. A lumbar corset brace may help with some symptoms of pain, but is not necessary in all cases.
Gentle activities are encouraged after surgery, such as sitting upright and walking. Patients must avoid avoid strenuous activity or exercise until cleared by their doctor. lifting heavy objects, and should try not to bend or twist the back excessively. Patients should As mentioned, treatment of a disc herniation usually begins with the steps listed above. However, surgical treatment of a herniated disc may be recommended soon after the injury if there is a significant neurological deficit to your problem. Symptoms on pain and sensory abnormalities usually do not require immediate intervention, but patients who have significant weakness, any evidence of cauda equina syndrome, or a rapidly progressing problem may require more prompt surgical treatment.
Most often surgery is recommended if more conservative measures do not relieve your symptoms. Surgery is performed to remove the herniated disc, and free up space around the compressed nerve. Depending on the size and location of the herniated disc, and associated problems (such as spinal stenosis, arthritis, etc.), the surgery can be done by several techniques. In very straightforward cases, endoscopic or microscopic excision of the herniated disc may be possible. However, this is not always recommended, and in some cases, a more significant surgery may need to be performedmy.