To perform a microdiscectomy of the lower lumbar spine, the doctor first makes a small incision in the middle of the lower back, says Spine-health. The surgeon then moves the back muscles away from the arch or lamina of the vertebra.
The surgeon removes a membrane called the ligamentum flavum from over the nerve roots, explains Spine-health. She then uses an operating microscope or loupes to see the nerve more clearly. Since she is operating on the lumbar spine, it is not necessary to remove a facet joint that might be in the way of the nerve root or might be pressing upon it.
The surgeon then moves the nerve root aside and gently removes the disc from beneath it, states Spine-health. Because the mechanics of the lower back are not altered by a microdiscectomy, it is often performed as an outpatient procedure. Sometimes, the patient spends only a night in the hospital and can return to his normal life fairly quickly. However, some doctors forbid their patients from strenuous activity for about six weeks after the surgery.
The success rate for microdiscectomy is between 90 and 95 percent, according to Spine-health. The herniated disc reoccurs in about 5 to 10 percent of patients. This usually happens within three months of the surgery or can happen years after the surgery.