Outpatient Spine Surgery? You Bet!

Dr. Tim YoonMany people have misconceptions about spinal surgery. They think spinal surgery has to be a big operation or that the recovery time after surgery has to be long. The truth is that there’s a common spinal surgery we perform as an outpatient procedure here at Emory, and with it we get great results. It’s called a lumbar microdiscectomy.

A lumbar microdiscectomy may be right for you if:

  • You have leg or foot pain, weakness, or numbness.
  • You’ve tried epidural steroid injections and they just don’t work.
  • An MRI has shown that you have a disc herniation that needs surgery.

What happens during a lumbar microdiscectomy? A lumbar microdiscectomy takes an hour or less of surgical time. In most cases, you can go home the same day you have surgery—usually within a few hours after the procedure. During the procedure, your surgeon removes the small portion of the disc that has herniated (protruded) and is compressing the nerve root to relieve the neural impingement causing your pain or weakness.

Lumbar MicrodiscectomyTo reduce surgery and recovery time, we use minimally invasive techniques, including:

  • anesthesia designed for outpatient surgery
  • x-ray guidance to make the most ideal incision
  • the smallest incision possible
  • a powerful microscope for better visualization through that small incision

After the surgery, you’ll be able to walk and do non-strenuous activities right away.

Our success rate at Emory for a lumbar microdiscectomy is very high, with patients often experiencing complete relief of pre-operative leg pain immediately after surgery.

Have you had a lumbar microdiscectomy, or would you like to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery at Emory? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

S. Tim Yoon, MD, PhD, specializes in minimally invasive surgery and is assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and chief of Orthopedics at the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Atlanta. He is board certified in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Yoon started practicing at Emory in 2000.

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6 Responses to “Outpatient Spine Surgery? You Bet!”

  1. Max says:

    Hi, this is Max. I read about lumber microdiscectomy, which could be a solution to my body. I would like to see Dr. to understand this more and want him/her to check my body if this surgery is reasonable to my pain on my back and foot. I am really interested in this if my pain could be healed for the first time since 10 years ago.

    • Moderator says:

      Personal patient information removed for patient privacy.

    • Emory Orthopedics & Spine says:

      Hey Max, You can use this phone number to schedule an appointment with us 404 778-3350 to speak with a doctor in detail about your circumstances. Or, if you’d like to get advice from a nurse, you can call 404 778-7777. Thanks!

  2. Rene says:

    I totally agree with the information provided on microdisectomy. Is there strong supporting evidence of people having recurring back problems following a diskectomy – I wonder if it leaves one vulnerable to issues such as bone-on-bone in the spine, etc….?

    • Moderator says:

      Personal health information removed for patient privacy.

    • Dr. Tim Yoon says:

      Most patients get very good relief of leg pain and often also have improvement in low back pain. It is unusual for the typical patient with disc herniation to develop “bone on bone” disease. However, this can happen to the patient whether the surgery is performed or not. This is because the disc herniation is a manifestation of disc degeneration. The important thing to know is that if there is a pinched nerve because of the herniation that causes severe buttock and leg pain, this outpatient surgery can be very effective in alleviating those symptoms.