A discectomy is the surgical removal of a specific part or all of the spinal disc. Discectomy surgery is preferred to treat degenerated, herniated (swollen, sagging, or slipped) and ruptured spinal discs. Spinal discs are located between each vertebra and act as a kind of pillow to protect your spine. A herniated disc can put a lot of pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that can exit the spinal cord. It can relieve pain and nerve compression caused by a herniated disc. A discectomy is major surgery with significant risks and possible side effects, as with any surgical operation. For this procedure, you can talk to your doctor in detail.
Types of discectomy surgery include:
- Cervical Discectomy: This is the process of removing a disc in the neck area (also known as the cervical spine).
- Lumbar Discectomy: Removing a disc in the lower back (also known as the lumbar spine).
- Sacral Discectomy: This is the process of removing a disc in the posterior region between the bones of the pelvis or hip (also known as the sacral spine).
- Thoracic Discectomy: The removal of a disc in the middle area of the back (also known as the thoracic spine).
Why is Discectomy Surgery Performed?
The doctor may recommend discectomy surgery to treat specific problems of the spine. Your doctor may only consider discectomy surgery if other treatment methods, including the minimal risk of side effects, are ineffective. Be sure to ask your doctor about all your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on this surgical procedure. For the following problems, your doctor may recommend discectomy surgery for your herniated, degenerated, or torn discs:
- Back, leg pain, numbness, and weakness problems that cannot be treated with other procedures for six weeks or more,
- Problems with walking, running, or performing other activities,
- Your doctor recommends this procedure in case of an inability to control the bowel or bladder.
How is Discectomy Performed?
Discectomy surgery is performed in a hospital. The surgeon will choose one of the following procedures:
- Open surgical procedure: This procedure involves making a small incision in the middle of the affected area of the spine. The open surgical procedure allows the surgeon to see the problem area and have comfortable access to this area. This procedure is the type of surgery popularly preferred for herniated discs of the lumbar spine. If you need another surgical procedure in addition to discectomy surgery on your spine, your surgeon may recommend open surgery.
- Microdiscectomy procedure: This procedure is a minimally invasive surgical procedure. It involves placing special tools through a small incision close to the problem area of your spine. Microdiscectomy will be an essential option if other surgical procedures aren’t needed.
- Anterior discectomy procedure: This procedure removes the spinal disc from a monk in the anterior region of your body.
Your surgeon determines the procedure that is best for you based on your age, diagnosis, body health, medical history, and possibly personal preferences. The microdiscectomy procedure typically provides faster recovery than open surgical practice, with minor infection and side effects such as pain may occur. Surgical materials are passed around the body structure instead of making an incision, as in an open surgical procedure. The surgeon will perform discectomy surgery using local or general anesthesia, depending on your conditions and procedure.
What are the Risks of Discectomy Surgery?
As with all surgical operations, discectomy surgery involves some risks and side effects. In some cases, side effects can become severe and can be life-threatening. Complications may develop even during surgery or recovery. Common risks of the operation include:
- Anesthesia reactions such as allergic reactions and respiratory disorders
- The heavy bleeding problem that can cause a shock condition
- Infection problems
Possible complications of discectomy surgery include:
- Severe damage to the nerves coming out of the spine, chronic pain or weakness
- Especially in the microdiscectomy procedure, disc parts remain, and therefore more surgery is required to remove these parts
- Tissue injuries during the process to access the disc
- Constantly recurring pain
By following your treatment plan meticulously, you can significantly reduce some side effects and risks.
How Should I Prepare For Discectomy?
The steps you take before the operation can change your comfort and the outcome of the procedure. if you prepared for discectomy as follows, this would be best:
- It would help if you answered all questions about your medical history and drugs that you use. All this includes all prescription, over-the-counter drugs, herbal therapies, and vitamins. Keep an up-to-date list of your medical history, drugs, and allergic conditions with you in any case.
- Before the procedure, the tests recommended by your doctor should be performed by the instructions.
- Give your excess weight with exercise plans and a healthy diet before surgery.
- Before surgery, you should fully follow your doctor’s recommendations.
- It would help if you quit smoking as soon as possible. Even stopping smoking for a few days can be largely beneficial and contributes to the healing process.
- To prevent the recurrence of possible problems, you should pay more attention to your life after surgery and thoroughly follow the recommendations after surgery.
- There may sometimes be complaints such as pain, burning sensation, and stinging in the problem area in the first days. Therefore, you should rest in bed without worrying.
- If you smoke, you should definitely stop it. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes cause narrowing of your veins and therefore slowing wound healing by reducing blood flow at the site of surgery.
- If it is necessary to climb the stairs in the first two weeks, you should take your steps one by one, bringing the other next to one foot on each stage.
- You can eat sitting down. But when you sit down to eat, you should be careful to have back support.
- You should make sure that your bed is suitable. In your next life, you should not sleep in places such as sofas and sofas.
- When getting out of bed, you must first turn full sideways, then move to a sitting position with support from the side with your hands and get up like this.
- You should not sit in the same position for a long time. At least you should get up every hour and travel for five minutes.
- If you are doing business sitting down, you should start working after one month. If you work in heavier work conditions, you should return to work after 45 days.
- For the first 45 days, you should take care not to carry weight, and after that, both hands should not carry a total weight of more than 5 kg. As you lift the weight, you should raise the importance by crouching and as close to your body as possible.
- You should be careful not to gain weight and diet if you have excess weight problems.
- You should use the car for the first one month after surgery.
Discectomy Recovery Time
The recovery process after surgery is typically gradual. The healing process varies depending on the procedure performed, the type of anesthesia, your overall body health, age, and other factors. The entire recovery period generally lasts between 6 and 10 weeks.