Some possible risks of a diskectomy include infection, bleeding, leaking spinal fluid, injury to the protective layer of the spine, and injury to the nerves or blood vessels around the spine, according to Mayo Clinic. A diskectomy is typically a safe procedure.
A doctor performs a diskectomy to relieve pressure on a spinal nerve caused by a herniated disk, explains Mayo Clinic. This condition occurs when some of the soft material of the disk protrudes through a crack in the exterior. A doctor often suggests a diskectomy if a person has trouble walking or standing due to nerve weakness. If conservative treatment for a herniated disk, such as physical therapy or medication, does not work, a doctor may also suggest a diskectomy. Other reasons for a diskectomy include disk fragments lodging in the spinal canal or the patient experiencing pain that radiates into the arms, legs, buttocks or chest.
Following the diskectomy, the medical team monitors the patient for complications, and in some cases, the patient may go home the same day, reports Mayo Clinic. Many people return to work in a couple of weeks following surgery, but some must wait six weeks or more, especially if their jobs involve heavy lifting. Patients must limit activities involving bending, stooping or lifting for about four weeks following the diskectomy and may have to limit the amount of time spent sitting. Physical therapists often teach patients exercises to improve the flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the spine.