Herniated disc is a displacement of the inner disc material beyond the intervertebral disc space. One procedure used to treat herniated discs is the dekompressor discectomy.
How common are herniated discs?
According to a recent study, the prevalence of symptomatic herniated disc is around 2%. The highest prevalence is among individuals ages 30 to 50 years, and the condition affects men twice as often as women. Based on this study, around 95% of herniated discs occur at the level of the fourth/fifth lumbar vertebrae and the fifth lumbar/first sacral bones. Herniated disc above the lower spine are more common in people age 55 years and older.
What is the purpose of the dekompressor discectomy procedure?
The dekompressor discectomy treats the sympathetic nerves that originate along the spinal column and extend to all smooth muscles and glands of the body. These nerves receive and send signals in the body, control involuntary movements, and control how the body reacts to certain environmental and physical changes.
The dekompressor discectomy removes the section of a herniated disc that is found to be irritating a nerve and causing pain. This is a minimally invasive procedure where the pain management specialist or surgeon uses a small needle-like instrument guided by real-time x-ray. A probe is inserted through the needle, and it is used to carve away bone to create more space for the spinal nerve. This relieves pressure on the nerve and alleviates pain.
What are the procedure steps?
The steps of the dekompressor discectomy procedure include:
- Checking in to the medical center – This involves signing consent forms, changing into a procedure gown, having an IV catheter inserted in your arm, and being positioned on the procedure table.
- Cleaning and numbing the skin – Once you are in the procedure room, a nurse will administer a sedative to keep you comfortable. The doctor cleans your skin with an antiseptic solution and numbs the area with a local anesthetic.
- Inserting the cannula – Using a fluoroscope (shows images to guide the surgeon), the doctor inserts a needle-like cannula through your back and positions it near the herniated disc.
- Treating the disc nucleus – The inner material of the disc is called the nucleus. The surgeon rotates the tip of the cannula and removes small portions of the nucleus material. When enough material is removed, this reduces pressure within the disc so the spine remains stable and the pain disappears.
- Relieving the herniated disc – The probe will create an empty space within the disc to allow the disc to reabsorb the herniation. Without the herniation, and with no undue pressure, pain resolves.
- Recovering from the procedure – The doctor removes the cannula and probe, and covers the skin with a small bandage. You are moved to a recovery room to be monitored for around 45 minutes.
What can I expect right after the dekompressor discectomy?
Expect to feel some soreness at the needle insertion site, which last 12-36 hours. You will still be numb immediately after the procedure from the anesthetic. Once you are alert, a nurse will offer you something to eat and drink. You are discharged home, and should have someone to drive you. You are not allowed to drive for 24 hours, and should rest for 1-2 days. Gradually return to usual activities after a few days of rest.
What is the success rate of the dekompressor discectomy procedure?
According to a recent clinical study, the success rate for percutaneous lumbar discectomy ranged from 30-96%, with an efficacy rate of around 90% for the microdiscectomy technique.
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