Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy


A herniated lumbar disc can apply pressure on spinal nerves and cause severe leg pain, numbness and/or weakness. Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy can remove a portion of the herniated disc compressing spinal nerves through a small incision in the skin. Dr Szabo performs minimally-invasive discectomy in many cases where surgery is necessary.

A lumbar discectomy can be performed by making smaller incisions to remove a portion of the spinal disc. This is done by passing surgical tools through the scope. A tiny skin incision means surrounding muscle or bone is left intact. Dr Szabo is guided by x-ray imaging to locate the herniated disc. He starts by inserting a wire into the vertebral space and then pushes a bigger tube over the wire. Afterwards, a second tube is placed over the first one. This pressure helps flatten the tissue against the vertebrae. Then, everything is removed apart from the large tube. Next, smaller surgical instruments and a camera are inserted through the scope. Finally, Dr Szabo removes the damaged disc and makes any other necessary repairs.

The minimally-invasive procedures spare the muscles and are carried out with smaller incisions than used in conventional surgery. This surgery is performed on an outpatient basis so patients can return home the same day. As a result, recovery time is shorter, and most patients are able to return to work in 3 to 4 weeks.

Patients usually notice rapid relief of leg pain; however, numbness may occasionally persist for several weeks before fading away. Therefore, patients should take care to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for at least six weeks following the procedure. Dr Szabo will prescribe medication to relieve pain after the procedure. Prescription pain medication and anti-inflammatories provide temporary relief until the patient recovers fully. Drainage from the site is to be expected and should subside in time.

A lumbar discectomy is not always a solution to back pain, and other conservative methods are first considered before Dr Szabo considers this option. However, in the event he discovers from the MRI that a herniated disc is increasing pressure on one of the lumbar nerves, he will have to remove parts of the disc.

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy Minimally-Invasive Procedures


1Why do I need a lumbar discectomy?
You require surgery when a herniated disc in the lower back causes symptoms of pain, muscle weakness and a tingling sensation in the back or legs.
2How do I prepare for a lumbar discectomy?
Ask Dr Szabo about how you should prepare for the surgery. He will tell you when to discontinue certain medications, such as blood thinners. He will ask you to stop eating or drinking at midnight the night before. Before the procedure, he will carry out an MRI of your spine.
3What is recovery like after a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy?
You are expected to wear a back brace to give your spine time to heal. Usually, patients return to work after a week or two. However, physiotherapy, including back strengthening exercises, assists further in your recovery.