When a lumbar (lower back) spinal disc is damaged to the point where a neurosurgeon recommends removal, a surgical procedure called a lumbar discectomy may be performed. Surgery will often be recommended if pain begins to interfere strongly with daily activities, a physical exam reveals a significant loss of motion range, and/or nonsurgical treatment for pain (such as physical therapy or epidural injections) does not yield results over the course of a month or more.

A lumbar discectomy may be performed to relieve the following issues:

  • Herniated (or “ruptured”) lumbar disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bone spurs related to the previous two conditions

When the discectomy includes fusion, the vertebrae surrounding the offending lumbar disc will be fused together permanently with a bone graft to close up the gap where the disc was removed and prevent future issues and deformities. Most of the time, a lumbar discectomy will include this fusion step as part of the overall process. In some cases, an artificial lumbar disc will be implanted in place of the extracted disc instead of fusing the vertebrae.

Often, a lumbar discectomy is performed as something called a “microdiscectomy.” In a microdiscectomy, the procedure is done using a specialized microscope to give a detailed view of the disc and its surrounding nerves. By using this “zoomed-in” approach, the surgeon is able to use a much smaller incision and cause less overall damage, hopefully leading to a quicker, easier recovery for the patient.

If you are suffering from any of the mentioned lower back conditions and would like to discuss the possibility of undergoing a lumbar discectomy, make an appointment with our office. Dr. Neece and his expert staff will assist you in evaluating your issue and determining whether you are a good candidate for the procedure.