The lumbar spine refers to the lower area of the spine between the pelvis and thoracic cage. It is made up of five vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other with cushion-like intervertebral discs in between. The lower back is the largest moveable segment of the vertebral column and is extremely vulnerable to disorders, making it the source of many pain complaints.
What is Lumbar Disc Microsurgery?
Lumbar disc microsurgery, also known as microdiscectomy, is a surgical procedure that removes part of an impinged intervertebral disc in order to relieve pain, weakness and numbness in the lower part of the body. It is usually reserved for patients with severe symptoms that do not respond to more conservative treatments, and significantly affect the patient’s quality of life.
Microdiscectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure that is performed laparoscopically, in which surgical instruments and a camera are inserted through several tiny incisions. The camera allows the surgeon to magnify the view of the affected area and precisely remove the disc with no damage to the surrounding area.
What Can Microdiscectomy Treat?
The microdiscectomy procedure is most effective in relieving lower back and leg pain caused by lumbar disc herniation. A herniated disc is a common condition that occurs as a result of gradual wear and tear or an injury to the intervertebral discs, causing it to bulge and break open. Patients with this condition often experience pain, numbness and weakness in the affected area, as well as through the legs.
Candidates For Lumbar Disc Microsurgery
Symptoms caused by a disc herniation often improve through conservative treatments or on its own. However, patients experiencing leg pain and numbness for more than six weeks may benefit from surgery. Surgery may also be recommended for severe pain that interferes with a patient’s ability to function normally. It is important for patients to be healthy enough to undergo major surgery and a rehabilitation program. They should also have realistic expectations for the outcome of this procedure.
While surgery is not needed in all cases, lumbar disc microsurgery is considered a highly effective option that can relieve pain quickly. Dr. Lipani will determine whether or not this procedure is right for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition.
During the lumbar disc microsurgery procedure, Dr. Lipani makes several tiny incisions in the back at the location of the affected disc. He then lifts the muscles away to access the spine. Small surgical instruments and a microscope are inserted into these incisions to repair the affected disc using minimally invasive techniques. Once the targeted nerve root is identified, the disc is removed from under the root. A small portion of the facet joint may be removed as well to relieve pressure on the nerve.
Dr. Lipani places the muscles back in their original position and closes the incisions with sutures. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. A short hospital stay is often required after surgery.
Recovery After Microdiscectomy
After the microdiscectomy, patients will be encouraged to get up and walk around shortly after the procedure. You will likely experience pain and other side effects, which can be managed through medication provided by Dr. Lipani.
Patients can benefit from a customized physical therapy and exercise program during recovery to help restore strength and flexibility and to reduce recurring back pain or disc herniation. These programs usually start with walking and can progress to bicycling and swimming within a few weeks. Dr. Lipani will provide individualized post-operative instructions for each patient.
You will likely be able return to work in two to four weeks, although for jobs that require physical labor, this may take four to eight weeks.
Most patients notice significant improvements in pain and are satisfied with the results of their procedure. This procedure provides comparable results with shorter recovery times than open procedures involving the vertebral discs.
“Dr. Lipani is the finest neurosurgeon! Compassionate, Caring, Down to Earth with his professionalism; he is the best! My son Alan, had an L-4/ L/5 Spine Fusion, 7.5 hour surgery and I can not thank the “Great Doctor”/Surgeon for his dedication, kindness and caring.” – Alan B.
“The Doctor outstanding in every way possible. Explaining every detail and taking his time to do so. Amazing for a surgeon to be so informing of the procedure to me and my wife. After the surgery he came out and explained everything to me. My wife is doing great after the cervical spine fusion, moving her arm in ways she hasn’t in years and getting her feeling back in her fingers” – Anthony R.
“Dr. Lipani and his staff are excellent. Dr. Lipani was very thorough. He explained what needed to be treated and why. He has terrific bedside manners. He answered all my questions patiently. Did not rush me at any time. I recommended him to one of my friends and she was extremely happy with him too.” – Poornima S.
Risks of Lumbar Disc Microsurgery
As with any type of surgical procedure, there are certain risks associated with a lumbar disc microsurgery, such as infection, bleeding, incontinence, nerve damage and cerebrospinal fluid leak. These risks are considered rare, and can be further reduced by choosing a skilled and experienced surgeon to perform your procedure. Dr, Lipani will thoroughly discuss these risks during your consultation.
Schedule a Consultation
To learn more about Lumbar Disc Microsurgery, contact Princeton Neurological Surgery. Call our New Jersey office at (609) 890-3400 to schedule a consultation with Dr. John Lipani. Our practice serves Hamilton, Morristown, and Bridgewater, New Jersey.