Sharp radiating pain to the legs or lower back pain that persists for a long period of time could be due to a disc problem, specifically in the lower back region of the spine. Lumbar disc prolapse refers to protrusion of herniation of the disc in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine which compresses the surrounding nerves, resulting in pain.
Discectomy is a procedure carried out to remedy this problem, wherein impinging disc fragments above or below the nerve root is removed, allowing the nerve to heal and thereby relieving pain. A microdiscectomy or microdecompression is typically carried out to treat lumbar disc prolapse. It helps relieve lower back pain and leg pain (radiculopathy or sciatica) to a large extent.
During a microdiscectomy, a small incision is made in the midline of the lower back and the surgeon navigates his way through the spine to the disc using either operating glasses or an operating microscope. The surgeon then removes the protruding or herniated disc fragment using specialized instruments and microsurgical nerve probes may be used to confirm that the pinched nerve has been restored to normal. The microscope offers a clear view of the surgical field with minimum damage to the surrounding tissues and is therefore one of the reason that it is the most preferred method of surgical intervention for lumbar disc prolapse the world over.
Another reason that this procedure is popular is due to the fact that it is minimally invasive. Compared to open discectomy, microdiscectomy requires only a small incision (1 or 1.5 inches). As a result, there is minimum blood loss, lesser chances of post-operative complications such as infections or bleeding and less scarring. Since a microdiscectomy also ensures less damage to surrounding tissues, recovery after surgery is quicker and less painful.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of this procedure is the surgical outcomes. Besides a significant relief from pain, almost a complete return to normal activities is possible after this surgery. In fact, there have been documented cases of professionals athletes having returned to their sporting careers after undergoing microdiscectomy. Most patients are able to resume sporting and fitness activities post-surgery.
With a constant demand for effective treatment options for potentially debilitating conditions, microdiscectomy checks all the boxes as a gold standard for spine surgery.