Lumbar discectomy is a surgical procedure to remove part of a disc that is pressing on spinal nerves in the lower (lumbar) back. It has a high success rate, especially in relieving leg pain (or sciatica), caused by the herniated portion of the disc pressing against a nerve.
This procedure is performed under sterile conditions in an operating room with the patient under general or spinal anesthesia. You will lie face down. Your surgeon will make a small incision over the affected disc in the lumbar region. A small portion of bone may be removed along with the adjoining ligament to expose the herniated disc. Your surgeon visualizes the discs and the nerves through a surgical microscope. This enlarges the view of the surgical site, minimizing damage to the surrounding tissues. The spinal nerve root is then gently lifted with a special hook, to gain access to the injured disc, and the ruptured or herniated disc is removed. Any loose disc fragments are also removed. After the completion of the procedure, the surgical wound is irrigated with antibiotic solution and closed.
If lumbar decompression surgery is recommended, you’ll usually have at least 1 of the following procedures:
In many cases, a combination of these techniques may be used.
Lumbar decompression is usually carried out under general anesthesia, which means you’ll be unconscious during the procedure and won’t feel any pain as it’s carried out. The whole operation usually takes at least an hour, but may take much longer, depending on the complexity of the procedure.