A microdisectomy is a relatively common procedure used to alleviate leg pain, weakness and, occasionally, pain in the lower back. For some patients, back surgery can be a frightening concept—so we’ve put together a list of facts that you should know about the use of microdisectomies to correct back pain and weakness.
Read on for 10 facts about microdisectomies for leg pain and weakness.
1. The Procedure Can Be Minimally Invasive
While there are different surgical methods for microdisectomies, they are generally minimally invasive—often utilizing a surgical microscope and performed through a small one inch incision in the lower back.
2. It Removes the Herniated Portion the Disc
After making the incision in the spine, the surgeon removes the membrane over the nerve root and carefully retracts the nerves from the herniated disc in order to remove the source of pressure on the nerve root.
3. It Usually Offers Immediate Relief from Leg Pain
The purpose of a microdisectomy is to remove a small portion of the herniated disc in your spine that is placing pressure on the nerve root. Removing pressure on the nerve root will often completely remove the source of the pain and patients generally feel pain relief immediately following the procedure.
4. Recovery May Take Months for Neurological Symptoms
When the nerve root is damaged by the herniated disc, it may lead to numbness, weakness or other neurological symptoms in the leg or foot. Following the surgery, it may take months for the nerve root to fully heal and for these symptoms to subside.
5. You Should Try NSAIDs and Physical Therapy First
Patients should generally only consider surgical intervention when alternative treatment options, such as oral steroids, NSAIDs and physical therapy have failed to address their pain.
6. The Procedure Is Up to 95% Effective for Sciatica Pain
According to the Spine Institute of San Diego, the success rate of micodisectomies approaches 95% for appropriately chosen patients. This translates to high rate of success and pain relief for those experiencing pain, weakness or numbness in their legs.
7. Most People Leave the Hospital Within 24 Hours
Because the procedure is minimally invasive, many patients who undergo a microdisectomy are able to go home within 24 hours of their procedure—often on the same day.
8. It is Sometimes Referred to as “Microdecompression”
Some people refer to a microdisecotomy as a microdecompression due to the procedure’s decompression of the nerve root.
9. A Microdisectomy is Different Than a Disectomy
While disectomies and microdisectomies are both surgeries involving the partial or complete surgical removal of an intervertebral disc, they are two separate procedures. The “micro” in microdisctomy refers to the use of microscopic magnification, which allows for smaller incisions and a less-invasive surgery overall.
10. Roughly 5% of Patients Develop a Recurrent Herniation
While microdisectomies have an incredibly high rate of success at alleviating leg pain in patients, one of the most common complications is a recurrent disc herniation—which may require another procedure to correct.
If you suspect that you may be in need of a microdisectomy to alleviate pain, weakness or numbness in your legs, make an appointment today to meet with one of the members of the comprehensive spine team at the Orthopedic Institute.