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One of the most common spinal surgeries, microdiscectomy targets patients with painful herniated discs. The goal of surgery is to remove the protruding or herniated disc fragment and any other tissues that might be compressing a nerve. Previously this was a major spine surgery that entailed a significant recovery time frame, but medical advances allow minimally invasive techniques that improve patient recoveries.

What is microdiscectomy?
The purpose of this type of spinal decompression surgery is to remove any bone or ligament that is hitting a nerve. It specifically eliminates the piece of herniated disc that is creating pain or other symptoms. Microdiscectomy is typically only performed after more conservative treatments have been unsuccessful, such as pain medication, physical therapy or cortisone injections. Dr. Charla Fischer in New York City can guide patients through other treatment options before approaching surgery, which is only recommended for cases that warrant it.

What does surgery usually involve?
Performed as a minimally invasive procedure, microdiscectomy requires a small incision and precision tools to guide the surgeon throughout the surgery. These tools allow the doctor to work successfully in the restricted space of the spine. Imaging techniques like X-rays are sometimes used before surgery, and sometimes even during the procedure, to ensure the ideal outcome. Skilled surgeons like Dr. Fischer remove the herniated part of the disc to promote the chances of a complete recovery.

What is recovery like?
A typical microdiscectomy takes from 30 to 60 minutes to perform, most often in an outpatient setting. Specific instructions will be provided for things like acceptable activities and pain management. An initial period of rest of about two weeks will be advised to allow healing and then patients usually may return to work. Physical therapy should be started around that time to help patients regain strength and protect the spine. It often requires about six weeks to return to normal daily activities. Most patients feel so much better after the herniated disc has been repaired that recovering from surgery does not seem too bad.  Dr. Fischer can diagnose patients accurately and help them through the treatment process, ultimately performing microdiscectomy if that is the best treatment option.

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