Laminotomy and Discectomy
Lumbar discectomy is a commonly performed surgical treatment for Lumbar disc herniation. The procedure has been developed since 1934. A lumbar discectomy is performed in order to remove the part of a herniated disc that is affecting the performance of the nerve root in the spine. When a disc herniates, it applies pressure to the nerve root, which can cause various nervous system conditions.
What causes a herniated disc?
When the outer part of a disc breaks down, the contents of the spine can “leak” out. This puts pressure on the nerve root, which can cause various pain and discomfort.
Do I need a lumbar discectomy?
Disc herniations don’t always necessarily have symptoms, but if symptoms are displayed, they will usually be:
- Surprisingly “weak” muscles or muscle reactions (the feeling that your muscles “give” too easily)
- Arm / Leg pains. They will feel like a “shooting” pain, or like you are being zapped – and they will occur when you move in just the right way, or put weight on the herniated lumbar disc
- Numbness, Tingling
- Decrease in reflex
- Other miscellaneous nerve-related issues
Diagnosing lumbar disc herniation
Lumbar disc herniation (and the need for lumbar discectomy) is determined using EMG (Electromyography) or other diagnostic imaging.
- CT Scan
Generally, since lumbar disc herniations may not show symptoms, a lumbar discectomy will only be performed if the symptoms are inhibiting the patient’s quality of life. Non-surgical treatment will always be preferable before performing a surgery.
Ask your doctor if you are eligible for lumbar discectomy, or if a non-surgical treatment plan will work better for you.
How are lumbar discectomies performed?
Most lumbar discectomies that are performed now are minimally invasive (microdiscectomies), and are made through a small (1-1.5 inch) incision near the affected disc. The back muscles will be lifted off the spine. The membrane that is over the nerve root will be removed, and pressure is relieved. The nerve root will be moved out of the way and the disc will be worked on to ensure pressure does not return to the nerve root.
Generally, the only time the immediate spine surgery will be prescribed as a treatment for a herniated disc is if that herniated disc affects the nervous system in ways that are very detrimental (incontinence, neurological dysfunction, severe spasms)