Discectomy Overview

A discectomy treats a pinched lumbar nerve. During the procedure, portions of nerve compressing intervertebral disc are carefully removed and the nerve is decompressed. Symptoms dramatically decrease shortly after surgery. Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates’ (CONA) spine specialists are discectomy experts.

How is discectomy performed?

A discectomy is under general anesthesia. A CONA spine specialist:

  1. Begins surgery. Muscles and tissues are gently retracted to view the pinched nerve.
  2. Decompresses the nerve. Tiny instruments remove pieces of the nerve-compressing disc and arthritic bone.
  3. Ends surgery. Absorbable stitches close tissue layers and removable ones close the skin. A sterile dressing is placed on the surgical site.

Total procedure time is 1 – 1 ½ hours.

What conditions can discectomy treat?

A discectomy may be recommended to treat a severely herniated disc that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment options.

What are discectomy advantages?

Discectomy advantages include:

  • Minimal surgical trauma to large spine muscles
  • Fast symptom relief
  • Return to normal activities with minimal to no restrictions after recovery

What is discectomy recovery like?

Discectomy is performed on an outpatient or inpatient basis. Hospital stays are usually 1-3 nights. Patients see their CONA specialist two weeks, 1, 3, 6 and 8 months after surgery. X-rays and neurological and physical examinations show improvements. Physical therapy helps to regain strength after surgery. CONA specialists explain every step of the recovery process during initial discectomy consultations.

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