What Is Open Discectomy (Nerve Root Decompression)?
The backbone is composed of discs that hold together and cushion the vertebrae (24 bones in all). Due to old age, injury, and the absence of proper healthcare, the outer wall of a disc (annulus fibrosus), can tear, giving way to the soft inner part (nucleus pulposus). This puts too much pressure on the hypersensitive nerve tissue of the spine and can even damage it. The most apparent symptom of this disorder is weakness or piercing back pain that shoots down one or both legs. Other terms for this are disc herniation, disc prolapse, and slipped or bulging disc.
Open discectomy (also known as nerve root decompression) is a surgical procedure used to correct this fairly common healthcare condition. Usually performed under general anesthesia, a small incision is made on the skin over the problem area in the spine, and some muscle tissue, as well as some disc and bone material, are removed. Once the bulging disc is exposed, it is then removed from the disc wall, including any other material that has come out together with it. When done, the surgeon then closes the incision. Sophisticated technology now makes it possible for the operation to be done arthroscopically, using local anesthesia and an even smaller incision for simpler cases. For extensive damage, however, healthcare specialists still strongly recommend open discectomy. Very rarely do patients experience complications like permanent numbness, leg pain, and bladder incontinence.
Who Should Undergo Prolapsed Disc or Open Discectomy?
Healthcare providers maintain that not all patients with prolapsed discs need nerve root decompression. Sometimes, conservative treatments are sufficient. These include physical therapy, yoga, rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and exercise. If the pain persists for several weeks after conservative treatments, however, the patient should consider nerve root decompression surgery. Failure to do so could result in permanent damage.
What Post-Operation Care Would an Open Discectomy Patient Need?
Pain does not totally disappear right after an open discectomy; especially at the incision area. Pain medication, antibiotics, vitamin B complexes are fairly common after nerve root decompression surgery. Physical therapy, gentle exercises, and altered working habits are necessary for a full recovery.