Minimally Invasive Lumbar Microdiscectomy: Q&A Mr Nitin Shetty

Q: What is Lumbar Microdiscectomy?

It is a surgical procedure to relieve pressure off the nerves in the lower back by removing a part of the disc that has prolapsed or “slipped” and is pressing on the nerve root.

Q: What does the Lumbar Microdiscectomy operation entail?

In most cases a small cut is made in the lower back and the procedure is carried out under the guidance of an operating microscope. The portion of the disc that is pressing on the nerve root is removed and the rest of the disc is retained. The operation is done through a small incision minimizing blood loss, muscle damage and recovery time.

Q: Why do I feel pain in my leg if the problem is in my back?

The nerves that go to the legs come off of the spinal cord. As they come off, they run into the spinal canal and then come out between two of the vertebral bodies. It is in the canal that the disc irritates the nerve, sending pain down the leg corresponding to the disc involved and the side of the nerve that it irritates.

Q: Will this procedure help me?

If you are diagnosed to have a disc prolapse, or as more commonly called, a “slipped disc,” this procedure will alleviate the leg pain or “sciatica” associated with this condition.

Q: Are there other options for a disc prolapse?

It is important to remember that most cases of disc prolapse respond well to conservative measures including pain medications and physical therapy. Only a small number of cases will require surgery.

Q: How long does the procedure usually take?

The actual surgical procedure customarily takes less than an hour, however including the anaesthetic and recovery time, the total could be around 2 hours.

Q: Do I have to stay in the hospital?

Most patients can be discharged home within 24 hours after surgery.

Q: How long do I have to be off work?

Patients with sedentary jobs could plan to return to work around  2-3 weeks, however some patients are able to work from home, work part time, or return to full responsibilities sooner than 2 weeks. Patients with more physical jobs may require up to 4 weeks off from full duty.

Q: Is my activity restricted after discectomy?

Following your surgery, we ask that you refrain from bending, lifting, twisting, pushing, stooping or straining for at least 4 weeks. For most patients, this means limiting lifting to a maximum of 10lbs for the first 2 weeks; and no lifting objects above shoulder level.

Q: Will I be able to return to sports?

Following Microdiscectomy, most patients are able to return to their preferred sporting activity.


Mr Nitin Shetty is a Consultant Orthopaedic Spinal Surgeon at Highgate Private Hospital specialising in minimally invasive lumbar decompression and fixation, microdisectomy, cervical decompression and fusion, spinal injections, vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, fracture fixations and spinal infection.

Date: 04/04/2019
By: gpittson