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microdisectomy worries

hj_sparks85hhj_sparks85 Posts: 37
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,

Just found this site after my seeing my specialist. I am female and 24 and just been told i will need a microdisectomy. Basically had back pain for about 5 years - working with children has taken its toll!
After finally having an MRI they said that one of the disc's is badly worn and part has broken off and pushing on my nerves - have had bad pain in my lower back and left leg for 6 months now.

I have not really been told much - only 4-6 weeks off work - Overnight stay and thats about it.
I am very very scared - only ever had one small opp to remove my wisdom teeth - and was terrefied over that!
Some people have said its risky, i will be on crutches or in a wheelchair?!?!#

What should I expect? Please be honest.

Many Thanks


  • It depends on the version of microdiscectomy you choose.
    There are different versions to accomplish the same thing. Some are very invasive, some are not.
    The stay also depends on how invasive the surgery is.
    It can be a radical "open" surgery with it's associated effects to a minimally invasive out-patient procedure with a very brief recovery.

    When it came time for me to choose (I have had 2 of them) I chose the least invasive procedure I could find.

    Results vary and are unique toeach case. YMMV.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • My experience was not bad.

    First, have they offered you trying epidural shot as a last "conservative" effort? Have you received a 2nd opinion?

    I only ask b/c it's been my experience from reading that if possible conservative non-surgical treatment is the way to go.

    But if all doctors agree. I will give you my experience. I have had sciatic pain for years (17+). I am now 40 and very active. This past summer I was having calve cramping during training runs (for a marathon) and I went for a massage and after that my sciatic nerve hurt the worst it ever had in 17 years. I took 5 days off from exercising but stretched one morning in bed and heard/felt a pop that was accompanied with excruciating pain.

    I ended up in the ER. After I was released - I got 3 opinions that said b/c I had lost a lot of strength in the left leg and had significant sensory loss (left buttocks, a little of my groin area, left back thigh, left heel to outer toe) I needed a microdiscectomy (L5-S1). They really were worried the nerve compression would start impacting my bladdar and bowels.

    I had the microdiscectomy. It is outpatient surgery which means 23hrs or less stay. My surgery was late in the day 4pm and I remembering waking up at 6:30pm. Because it was late and they had to give me 2 series of IV antibiotics to prevent infection, it was easier to keep me overnight. I was up walking 90 mins after the surgery. I was sore but it wasn't bad. I was taught how to get up to take myself to bathroom but always had an aid there to assist. The next morning was a weekend so I had to wait until 10AM for the staff to arrive to check my incision and have physical therapist make sure I could walk further and teach me how to safely go up/down stairs. I would have gotten released shortly after but was deyhdrated so my BP dropped (I have low BP anyhow) but was released at 3pm.

    Ride home wasn't too bad but would suggest you recline as far as possible. I also was given a muscle relaxer pill and pain pill before the ride just to be safe but probably didn't need it.

    The incision is about 1.5 inches. Though the first 4 days it will feel like it runs across your lower back though it feels more as if it is bruised than anything.

    Recovery - -> they are very WISE to tell you to restrict work based on what you seem to do.

    Key things: Do not bend over, Do not twist/torque (which means if possible do not drive yourself the first 4 weeks), do not lift more than a gallon of milk and never lift over your head during recovery. Oh, I found a recliner to be comfortable but I think it is better lumbar support to lie flat in bed and use sturdy chair for the short periods of sitting. I really couldn't sit for more than 5 mins the first couple of days. I could walk back/forth on the drive way though which was refreshing.

    After 4 days I was left alone at home but really could have been left by day 2 or 3 but just wasn't sure what to expect so arranged to have family there.

    Results do vary. I re-herniated my disc (I'm the 10% that it happens to in 1st 3 months) and the next surgery (revision) is in January. I will be very careful with these rules. Do not over do it. You will be tempted but don't give in. Adhere to your doctors orders!

    The first 6 weeks is key but really it take (from what I read 3 months for inner incision to heal from what I read.

    Again, not sure type of microdiscectomy but that was my experience. It was minimally invasive.

    I also have a collegue who had one 10 years go when he was about 30 and is doing very well. And a few other friends that had them 3 years ago in their late 30's and are also doing well.

    Good luck.

    If you have more questions, let us know.
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  • Thanks for the replies.
    I didn't know their was different types! I was in a right state at the hospital so didn't take it all in but he said it would be under anesthetic. I got a leaflet that said about 4-6 weeks off and up to 7 days lying down or gentle walking!
    From the MRI - it shows the last 3 disc's very worn and the lowest one bulging out.
    I don't know how to ask for a second oppinion - I have been under my doc with this for years and nothing has ever been mentioned until now and it seems to be my only option!
  • I have had 1 open procedure and 2 laproscopic disc/lamen procedures of L4-5 L5-S1. the open sucks. the laproscopics were awesome. I would rec to anyone with persistant back problems. I was in and out of the hopital in several hours. I was back to work in 4-5 days. Open procedure was terrible. It helped me but recovery was 4-6 weeks
  • Getting additional professional opinions is no problem.
    Just a matter of you finding appropriate professionals and calling to schedule consultations.

    As an example, I consulted with 8 different spine surgeons throughout California and Arizona.

    I encourage you to be a pro-active participant in your healthcare. Research the different kinds of surgeries/solutions.
    Empower yourself with information and be the one to call the shots.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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  • 2nd opinions are expected.

    CASE 1:
    With my 1st microDiscectomy . . .I had 3 doctors tell me I needed the surgery. I challenged one and he said "ok, let's talk about the epidural option" and we did. We talked at length and he was willing to try it but told me the odds of it working. I opted for the surgery b/c at that point felt I was informed.

    CASE 2:
    When I found out I reherniated the disc after surgery, I told my doctor that I would be going for a 2nd opinion b/c he was out of network and was concerned that if it didn't work, I would have to switch dr's in 2010.

    He looked at me and said "even if you didn't have to switch doctors, when someone tells you surgery, ALWAYS get a 2nd and/or 3rd opinion". He then reminded me that he was a surgeon and very human like everyone else which means he is not perfect.

    I got 6 opinions.
    1 -My Doctor - revision
    2 -Nuero surgeon - revision
    3 -Ortho spine - maybe fusion, told me get another opinion
    4 -Ortho spine - fusion (but found out he's aggressive surgeon)
    5 -Nuero Surgeon - fusion (worked with dr#4 but separated group) but said he'd work with me regardless of which option I picked

    (called my doctor back asking him why varying opinions, he spent 15 mins on the phone explaining his recommendation. I told him I could get a free opinion remote from a spine clinic (can't name here) and he said he'd sign a release and give me all the reports to send along)

    6 - Neuro - revision and was very much aligned with my doctors explanation that you try conservative
    7 - remote opinion agreed with my surgeon

    Can you imagine?
    The above opinions don't even count the countless hours I spent reading/researching and asking for insight here but it was for a fusion vs. revision microD.

    I would say empower yourself. If you are unsure how to find another doctor you have a few choices.

    - Ask your primary care physician.
    - Ask your insurance company if they have some sort of healthcoach to help you find a doctor
    - Ask your parents friends or co workers.
    - Ask here who lives in the area near you and they will PM you.

    It doesn't mean you won't use your current doctor, it just means you are doing your homework and taking charge. I don't want to scare you, I just want you to know that it's worth taking the time and extra co-pay to get at least one more opinion from someone that isn't so familiar with your story and might have new insight. S/he may tell you the same thing but at least you won't look back saying "Darn, maybe I should have talked to one other doctor".

    Good luck. Either way, let us know when your surgery is. I will say a prayer and send good vibes your way!
  • I didn't even think - but is this a USA site? Im from UK and don't have any insurance so on NHS.

    Thanks again for the replies. I think I will try and get another app with the hospital to ask more questions.
  • I think it is a US site, but I have seen a lot of Canadian, Australia and UK people on as well.

    Back pain knows no boundaries.
  • Hi there,

    Sorry, I should have told you I was from US. I know insurance is different.

    Like others said, there are folks on here from UK and a few other countries.

    Anyhow, seems like you are doing your research by being here. I also hope the information I provided on my own MicroD is helpful. Please don't worry. I was giving advice on extra opinions based on USA norms.
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