Due to a consequence of age related changes or injury to the lumbar spine some individuals may experience a pain known as sciatica.
Essentially, sciatica is caused by irritation and in more severe and ongoing cases compression of the sciatic nerve in the lumbar spine.
If symptoms have not responded to other remedies such as painkillers, physiotherapy and injections surgery may be used to remove the offending soft tissue away from the nerve root, thereby, decompressing the nerve.
Lumbar spine microsurgery is an emerging option for operating to decompress the nerve roots in the lumbar spine and has the advantages of being able to achieve the decompression with a smaller incision which reduces the chance of infection and significant post operative pain.
This procedure is carried out by Circle Health's experienced spinal consultants and is carried out under general anaesthetic. The procedure is similar to a standard lumbar spine discectomy or laminectomy but is done via a microscope.
Once the small incision is made the microscope is carefully directed to the correct area of the spine with the aid of medical imaging. The offending piece of soft tissue, normally disc material is removed to decompress the nerve root.
The risks of lumbar spine microsurgery will vary according to the exact surgery planned and your individual problem and general health status. These will be discussed in detail with you by your surgeon prior to your operation. Some general complications of lumbar spine microsurgery which affect a very small percentage of patients can include:
- Infection rates although lower due to the smaller incision can still occur. Our theatres have ultra-clean air operating conditions keeping infection rates to the minimum.
- Blood clots are possible after any operation and are more common in patients with some pre-existing medical conditions. However, again they affect a very small percentage of patients and have well established treatments including aspirin.
- Damage to the nerves in the lumbar spine which may result in sensory loss and weakness in the legs and in extreme circumstances loss of bladder/ bowel/ sexual function.
- The intended benefits of reduced pain and increased function may not be felt.
Patients who have undergone lumbar spine microsurgery will often see some benefits immediately after the procedure as the spinal nerve root has been mechanically decompressed.
However, significant benefits may also continue to materialise for several weeks following the procedure and any sensory or motor power improvements may take several months to improve their potential function.
Once your pain levels have reduced sufficiently our expert physiotherapists will work closely with you to:
- Increase strength in your spine
- Increase balance and co-ordination