A bilateral or multilevel lumbar (lower back) discectomy is surgery to remove a herniated (slipped, ruptured, or bulging) disc in the spine that causes lower back pain, numbness, or weakness that spreads to the arms or legs.
What is a lumbar discectomy?
A lumbar discectomy involves a neurosurgeon or orthopedic spine surgeon removing all or part of a damaged (herniated or slipped) disc from the spine in the lower back. It typically involves a minimally invasive microdiscectomy procedure, where the surgeon makes a small incision or incisions near the slipped disc and uses small instruments to perform surgery.
Types of lumbar discectomy
A lumbar discectomy can remove all or part of one or more slipped discs.
Bilateral lumbar discectomy
Lower back surgery to remove all or part of a slipped disc causing pain on both sides of the spine.
Multilevel lumbar discectomy
Lower back surgery to remove all or part of more than one slipped disc.
What does a lumbar discectomy treat?
A lumbar discectomy treats pain, weakness, and numbness caused by a slipped or herniated disc in the lower back area. The damaged disc can irritate or pinch spinal nerves around it. In serious cases, this pain and numbness radiate out to affect the arms and legs.
A lumbar discectomy is most commonly recommended in cases where:
- Severe leg pain, numbness, or weakness makes it difficult to stand, walk, and generally move around.
- Leg pain doesn’t ease with physiotherapy and/or pain medication.
- Severe pain spreads to the buttocks, arms, or chest.
Shooting pain, often caused by a slipped or herniated disc, that starts in the lower back and spreads down the back of one leg.
Lumbar discectomy results
A lumbar discectomy provides relief from pain, numbness, weakness caused by a slipped or herniated disc in most cases. However, patients are advised to seek advice on what might have caused the slipped disc in the first place to help prevent it happening again.
Preparing for a lumbar discectomy
Patients may need to follow specific advice on what to eat and drink, and what medications to take or not take, within a certain time period before surgery. Cessation of smoking in weeks prior to surgery has proven beneficial to surgical outcomes.
What to expect with a lumbar discectomy
A lumbar discectomy requires general anesthesia. This means the patient is unconscious for the duration of the procedure. If the surgery is a microdiscectomy, the surgeon makes a small incision or incisions near the slipped disc and uses small instruments to perform surgery, including a microscope to inspect the disc and nerves.
The surgeon may remove a small amount of spinal bone and ligament for easier access to the slipped disc, which sits between two vertebrae (the bones that make up the spine or backbone). The surgeon will try to only remove a fragment of the damaged disc that is causing the nerve pain.
Recovery after a lumbar discectomy
After surgery, the patient is taken to a recovery room to be monitored in case there are any complications. The typically does not require an overnight stay, but some patients may need to stay overnight for further monitoring.
Most patients should be able to return to work in two to eight weeks, depending on how strenuous their work is. Patients will be given instructions for what they should and shouldn’t do to ensure maximum recovery. A course of physiotherapy may be recommended to strengthen the muscles around the spine and improve flexibility.
Get a lumbar discectomy with Centric Health
Many men and women from across Canada and all over the world choose Centric Health Surgical Centres for lumbar discectomy. Our neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons have years of experience and excellence in performance and outcome with this procedure. They are committed to helping you relieve the pain and other problems caused by a slipped disc. We strive to provide exceptional pre- and post-operative care. Combined with our patient-centred philosophy, we aim to provide all our patients with a compassionate, caring, and rewarding experience.
Next steps: Book your lumbar discectomy consultation
If you are ready to discuss your lumbar discectomy needs with our surgeons, contact us to learn more and request a consultation today. To discover your health options your patient care coordinator will discuss:
- Your medical history
- Incision techniques
- Potential risks and complications