Microdiscectomy, also known as microdecompression, is a minimally invasive procedure designed to relieve pain caused by certain spinal conditions, including:

  • Disc bulge
  • Disc herniation
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis (degenerative or isthmic)
  • Sciatica

Although Microdiscectomy targets the nerves of the spinal cord, the pain alleviated is usually in the legs. A microdiscectomy is usually reserved for patients who do not respond to more conservative methods of pain relief. Surgery is usually performed within three to six weeks of the onset of pain.

Microdecompression allows for the herniated nucleus to be removed without fully visualizing the spine, as temporary repositioning of the back muscles and nervous membrane allow for small surgical tools and cameras to perform the operation with minimal soft tissue damage. In contrast to a laminectomy where the lamina is removed, the spine’s shape takes little to no change, as no bones are shifted whatsoever during this procedure.

A microdiscectomy is generally an outpatient procedure with a very fast rate of recovery. Although it is recommended to restrict certain spine-intensive activities, such as twisting, bending and lifting, the patient’s bone structure and tissue is completely unchanged and normal activity is quite feasible. The success rates vary between 90 and 95 percent with a relatively low recurrence rate of 5 to 10 percent, usually occurring in the first three months after surgery. If herniation reoccurs, the procedure may be repeated, although chances of continual recurrence will be much higher.

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