What is a Lumbar Discectomy?

A lumbar discectomy is performed to remove a prolapsed disc or disc fragment/s to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord.

lumbar discectomy

An x-ray is taken during surgery and used to confirm the correct levels of the spine. When the correct levels have been confirmed, a cut is made in the middle of the back, over the site of the prolapsed disc. The muscles are stripped from the back of the spine.

The bones are removed to identify the disc, a microscope may be used. Once the prolapsed disc is identified, the prolapsed disc or disc fragments are removed from the spine. A small plastic tube (drain) may be inserted to allow any residual fluid to be drained away. This will be removed within 24 to 48 hours. The cut is closed with stitches.

This procedure will require a general anaesthetic.

What are the risks of this specific procedure?

There are risks and complications with this procedure. They include but are not limited to the following. Infection requiring antibiotics and further treatment. Minor pain, bruising and/or infection from IV cannula site. This may require treatment with antibiotics. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs.

Rare complications include but not limited to, heart attack due to the strain on the heart. Stroke or stroke like complications may occur causing neurological deficits such as weakness in the face, arms, and legs. This could be temporary or permanent. Nerve root injury causing a weakness in foot movement which may affect mobility. This may be temporary or permanent. Injury to the covering of the spinal cord. This may require further surgery. This rarely occurs.