Lumbar Herniated Disc Surgery

Back Surgery Information

Lumbar Herniated Disc Surgery

A lumbar herniated disc is sometimes called a slipped disc. A herniated disc most commonly occurs in the lower back and is the leading cause of serious lower back pain. The treatment for a lumbar herniated disc will first and foremost involve non-surgical methods. The non-surgical methods include spinal manipulation, physical therapy, weight loss, rest and medication (NSAIDs or steroids). There are also a number of other non-invasive treatments that may be tried. Lumbar herniated disc surgery is only considered when other methods have failed to resolve the back pain.

A doctor will usually suggest lumbar herniated disc surgery when the patient has been on other, non-surgical treatments for at least 2 or 3 months. The non-surgical treatments are deemed to have failed if the patient is still experiencing a great deal of lower back pain.

At times lumbar herniated disc surgery may be considered for a patient before the minimum period of 2 months has elapsed if the symptoms such as numbness and weakness in the legs are progressing or if the pain caused by the herniated disc is so severe as to seriously impede normal day to day functioning. Surgery is considered an emergency if the patient is suffering from genital numbness, incontinence and weakness, which is referred to as the cauda equina syndrome (CES).

There are a number of surgeries carried out for a lumbar herniated disc. The most common lumbar herniated disc surgery is called the lumbar microdiscectomy. This surgery is also called lumbar microdecompression surgery because it involves removing a portion of the disc to ease the pressure exerted on the nerve root. Microsurgical methods are used in this procedure with the surgeon performing the procedure through a small incision in the back. As this surgery is minimally invasive, it can be performed on an outpatient basis. Patients are able to recover from surgery within a week.

A lumbar microdiscectomy is usually performed in straight forward cases. If the disc herniation is more complicated, the lumbar herniated disc surgery that is more likely to be performed is called a lumbar laminectomy. This procedure involves the complete removal of the lamina. Lamina is the thin protective covering on the spinal cord. This is a more invasive procedure and the surgeon makes an incision that is at least 3 inches long. Recovery time after this surgery will typically be longer but will also depend on the physical condition and age of the patient. This surgery is performed to ease nerve compression or complications caused by spinal stenosis.

A third type of lumbar herniated disc surgery performed is referred to as a laminotomy. This is very similar to the laminectomy except in this procedure, only a portion of the lamina is removed. Both the laminectomy and the laminotomy can be performed together with a lumbar microdiscectomy.