If you’re planning to have microdiscectomy surgery, make sure you choose a surgeon who’s had plenty of experience. Microdiscectomy can be used as an alternative to spinal fusion or disc replacement surgery.
Lumbar (lower back) microdiscectomy
To repair a herniated lumbar disc, your surgeon makes a 2-3 cm incision in your back. They move aside your back muscles without cutting them. Your surgeon may need to remove a small part of the facet joint (a joint which connects the vertebra with the one next to it) and possibly the lamina (the bone at the back of the vertebra). Using an operating microscope to get a clear view, they’ll then remove the membrane covering the nerve roots to access your spine.
After moving aside the nerve root, your surgeon can then see the disc and remove the parts that have herniated. This allows the spinal cord to move back to its normal position. Finally, the surgeon shifts the nerves and muscles back into position and closes the incision.
Cervical (neck) microdiscectomy
To repair a herniated cervical disc, your surgeon first makes a small incision in the back of your neck to access your cervical spine. The procedure is then similar to lumbar microdiscectomy.
Both lumbar and cervical microdiscectomy can be performed using an endoscopic (keyhole) technique. The keyhole technique uses a smaller incision and causes less trauma to the surrounding tissues, so your recovery may be quicker and more comfortable.
If you’re having keyhole surgery, sometimes a surgeon may need to change to an open procedure because of difficulties that occur during the surgery.