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Intervertebral discs are located between each backbone (vertebra). When damaged, these discs can put pressure on nerves as they leave the spinal cord. An intervertebral diskectomy is a back surgery that removes all or part of these discs. The procedure is most often done on lumbar discs (located in the lower back). It may also be done on cervical discs in the neck. There are two methods for this surgery:
- Open procedure—A large incision is made.
- Microdiskectomy—Small incisions are made, and the doctor inserts tiny instruments through these incisions.
These discs normally serve as cushions between the bones. The discs can become damaged or dry with age. Injury can also cause a disc to bulge (or herniate ). These changes can create pressure on nerves leaving the spine. This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness.
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The best time to have this surgery is debatable. This is because—for some patients—having early surgery may not result in less pain or disability. In most cases, surgery is only done after other treatments have failed. Other treatments typically include:
- Physical therapy
The goal of surgery is to eliminate pain, weakness, and numbness caused by the disc pressing on a nerve. You may feel relief right away, or it may take months for the nerve root to heal. In...
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have intervertebral diskectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Nerve damage
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
- Leakage of spinal fluid
- Another herniated disk (may happen within the first three months after surgery)
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Chronic conditions (eg, diabetes )
- Prior spine surgeries
- Advanced age
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and...