A diskectomy is a surgical procedure used to relieve the symptoms caused by a herniated disk. This procedure surgically removes the herniated disk and other areas of the spine that have been damaged, relieving the spinal nerve pressure the herniated disk caused. While this surgery is effective, it is not used for everyone who suffers from a herniated disk. A diskectomy is only conducted when other treatment options, such as physical therapy, have failed, resulting in only 10 percent of those with a herniated disk undergoing this treatment option. A diskectomy is most often the recommended course of treatment when other methods have failed, loose fragments of the disk have become dislodged, and if pain progresses to the point it becomes difficult to walk or stand.
During the diskectomy procedure, general anesthesia is used. To conduct the procedure, a small incision is made over the herniated disk, where the muscles of the back will be removed from the spine as much as possible. Often, ligaments and bone may need to be removed as well. After this is competed, portions of the herniated disk will be removed using specialized tools. After the portions of the herniated disk are removed, pain and pressure should subside. The incision is then closed using staples or stitches and the recovery process begins. This procedure is considered to be an effective course of treatment in 80 to 90 percent of patients who undergo the treatment.
After a diskectomy, the recovery process begins. In some cases, no hospitalization is needed, but often, a short hospital stay of 1 to 3 days will be recommended. During diskectomy recovery time, a patient will not be permitted to bend, lift or stoop for up to six weeks after the procedure. It is often advised the patient takes time off from work to allow the area to heal properly. To avoid re-injuring the spine, a doctor may advise long term activity restrictions.
While a diskectomy is considered to be a relatively safe procedure, there are complications that can occur. Diskectomy risks include bleeding from the incision site, spinal fluid leakage, and injury to nerves and blood vessels around the incision site. Infection is also a risk of the procedure. In some cases, there can be damage or injury to the dura mater, which is the protective layer that surrounds the spine.
“Diskectomy Results” MayoClinic