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Understanding Lumbar Discectomy

Cluett M.D.(2012) describes a discectomy as a surgery performed to remove the herniated disc from the spinal cord.  When a disc herniation occur, a fragment of the normal spinal disc s dislodged. This may press against the spinal cord or the nerves around the spinal cord.  This pressure causes the symptoms that are associated with herniated discs.

Common Symptoms of a Herniated Disc include;

  • Electric Shock Pain
  • Tingling and Numbness
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Bowel and Bladder Problems

The surgical treatment of a herniated disc is to remove the fragment of the spinal disc that is causing the pressure on the nerves.  This procedure is called a discectomy.

The Procedure

The procedure takes approximately one hour and is performed under anaesthesia.  A small incision is made to dissect the muscle away from the bone of the spine and remove a small amount of bone and ligament from the back of the spine. This part of the procedure is called the laminectomy.

Once the disc herniation is found the herniated disc fragment is removed. More disc framents may be removed inhoes o avoiding another disc from herniating in the future.  The risk of this occurring is about 10 – 15 %.  Once the disc has been cleaned out from around the nerves, the incision is closed and a bandage applied.


The success of the procedure is about 85 – 90%.  Most patients find relief of most if not all of their symptoms for a discectomy. 10 % of patients may still have persistent symptoms.

Lumbar surgery to treat a prolapsed lumbar disc has been widely practised since the 1930’s. It is a very safe procedure and complications are very rare.


Cluett, Jonathan M.D., Lumbar Discectomy-Spine Surgery to Remove a Herniated Disc,  23 March 2012




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