Microdiscectomy and laminectomy are decompression procedures that remove herniated discs and bone spurs from the spine. A microdiscectomy is typically performed on patients suffering from severely damaged or herniated spinal discs, and a laminectomy is usually performed on patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. Both conditions (herniated discs and lumbar spinal stenosis) can produce debilitating symptoms if left untreated, such as pain, numbness, and weakness in the lower back and legs. Microdiscectomy and laminectomy are two separate surgical procedures with very similar techniques and a common end goal: to remove disc material that is compressing spinal nerves. Before a patient can undergo either procedure, a spinal surgeon at Orthopedic and Wellness will order imaging tests to confirm the location and complexity of the spinal compression.
Microdiscectomy and laminectomy are performed under general anesthesia, so the patient is asleep throughout the procedure. During the surgery, the affected area is sanitized before small incisions are made above the herniated disc or bone spur. Shortly after, the spinal surgeon uses a retractor to expand the surgical site to remove parts of the lamina bone, ensuring a clear view of the damaged disc material. The patient’s herniated disc or bone spur is then removed and replaced with a bone graft made of autogenous bone, cadaver bone, bovine bone, or synthetic bone. During a laminectomy, torn ligaments may also be repaired to help reduce pain, numbness, and tingling. The surgeon may remove or trim disc material underneath the affected nerve root to increase space in the spinal column. After removing the damaged spinal disc and replacing it with a bone graft, the surgeon will remove his or her tools and close the incision. A bandage will be placed over the sutured incision, and the patient will be sent to a separate room to recover.
Patients may remain in the hospital for several days, typically one to three, to reduce the risk of surgical complications. Mild pain and muscle tenderness near the surgical site is normal and should subside within a few weeks. After returning home from the hospital, patients will need to limit their activity level for two to three weeks to aid the healing process. After eight weeks, patients may be fully recovered. More often than not, patients will need to undergo a physical therapy regimen to strengthen the muscles in their back. This will help reduce the risk of injury and other complications. Patients should contact their Orthopedic and Wellness physician immediately if they develop a fever, redness, swelling, or infection at any point during their recovery.