Microdiscectomy and Foraminotomy
What is microdiscectomy?
Microdiscectomy and Foraminotomy are used to treat a condition involving a herniated disc and pinched spinal nerves caused by disc degeneration. The procedure can be performed anywhere along the spine, from the neck (cervical spine) to the lower back (lumbar spine).
During a microdiscectomy, the surgeon makes a tiny incision, using a microscope or magnifying instrument to view the disc and nerves, and removes disc material so that it no longer irritates and compresses the nerve root. During a foraminotomy, bone is removed in an effort to enlarge the “neural foramen,” the space between vertebrae where the nerve root exits the spinal canal.
A microdiscectomy is performed through the back, so the patient lies face down on the operating table for the surgery. General anesthesia is used, and the procedure usually takes about one to two hours.
Surgery for Herniated Discs
Microdiscectomy is a leading procedure when dealing with lumbar herniated discs and cervical herniated discs. As noted previously, the nature of the procedures relieve pressure from the nerves and also the pain you experience from having a pinched nerve. The small portion pressing on this nerve is removed, and the majority of your disc is intact. The reason it’s called a ‘micro’ discectomy is because the incisions made are small, and the procedure is aimed to be less invasive than an average discectomy.
What to expect after Microdiscectomy and Foraminotomy
After any surgery the post-operative care is crucial to prevent infection and injury. You’ll need to replace dressing 48 hours after the surgery, and avoid showering for 3 days afterwards, keeping the bandages dry while doing so. If the incision gets red, swollen, warm or draining you should contact your doctor as it may be a sign of infection. Exercise is a critical part of recovery, and should be a minimum of 30 minutes each day of casual walking. The pain experienced varies from patient to patient, and if the location of the microdiscectomy is in the lumbar region of the spine, you may have some leg pain. And pain at the incision location is normal.
How long is recovery from Microdiscectomy?
Due to the less invasive process of a microdiscectomy most patients return to work and regular life in one to three weeks. The recovery process can be assisted by physical therapy, and if pain is persistent some pain medication may be prescribed for pain management. The quick recovery is another great benefit to microdiscectomy, since other spine surgeries such as spinal fusion can take months to recover from.