Diskectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the cushion that helps support part of your spinal column.
These cushions are called disks, and they separate your spinal bones (vertebrae).
A surgeon may perform disk removal (diskectomy) in these different ways.
• Microdiskectomy: When you have a microdiskectomy, the surgeon does not need to do much surgery on the bones, joints, ligaments, or muscles of your spine.
• Diskectomy in the lower part of your back (lumbar spine) may be part of a larger surgery that also includes a laminectomy, foraminotomy, or spinal fusion.
• Diskectomy in your neck (cervical spine) is most often done along with laminectomy, foraminotomy, or fusion.
Microdiskectomy is done in a hospital or outpatient surgical center. You will be given spinal anesthesia (to numb your spine area) or general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free).
• The surgeon makes a small (1 to 1.5-inch, or 2.5 to 3.8-centimeter) incision (cut) on your back and moves the back muscles away from your spine. The surgeon uses a special microscope to see the problem disk or disks and nerves during surgery.
• The nerve root is located and gently moved away.
• The surgeon removes the injured disk tissue and pieces of the disk.
• The back muscles are returned to place.
• The incision is closed with stitches or staples.
• The surgery takes about 1 to 2 hours.
Diskectomy and laminotomy are usually done in the hospital, using general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free).
• The surgeon makes a larger cut on your back over the spine.
• Muscles and tissue are gently moved to expose your spine.
• A small part of the lamina bone (part of the vertebrae that surrounds the spinal column and nerves) is cut away. The opening may be as large as the ligament that runs along your spine.
• A small hole is cut in the disk that is causing your symptoms. Material from inside the disk is removed.
Other fragments of the disk may also be removed.
When one of your disks moves out of place (herniates), the soft gel inside pushes through the wall of the disk. The disk may then place pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that are coming out of your spinal column.
Many of the symptoms caused by a herniated disk get better or go away over time without surgery. Most people with low back or neck pain, numbness, or even mild weakness are often first treated with anti-inflammatory medicines, physical therapy, and exercise.
Only a few people with a herniated disk need surgery.
Your doctor may recommend a diskectomy if you have a herniated disk and:
• Leg or arm pain or numbness that is very bad or is not going away, making it hard to do daily tasks
• Severe weakness in muscles of your arm, lower leg or buttocks
• Pain that spreads into your buttocks or legs
If you are having problems with your bowels or bladder, or the pain is so bad that strong pain medicines do not help, you will need to have surgery right away.