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How Successful Are Microdiscectomies?


The removal of part or all of a herniated spinal disc is often a last resort when conservative treatments aren't effective. If you've reached a point where a discectomy is either being discussed or is a likely possibility, it's understandable to want to know what results to expect. Here's what you need to know about the success rates commonly associated with microdiscectomies and how to increase your odds of enjoying a beneficial outcome.

80–90 Percent Is the Average Success Rate

According to an extensive study cited by
Spine Health, the post-surgery results after discectomy procedures range from good to excellent for about 84 percent of patients. Other sources put the success rate associated with this procedure a bit higher or lower, so the average is somewhere between 80 and 90 percent.

Know What “Success” Following a Discectomy Actually Means

Statistics provide a general idea of what's typically experienced following a microdiscectomy. However, these figures aren't too meaningful if you don't focus on what "success" means to you. Typically, a successful outcome for a discectomy patient is characterized by:

• Experiencing significantly reduced or totally eliminated discomfort
• Safely and effectively getting back to enjoyable activities
• Resuming daily routines (e.g., bathing, dressing, cooking, etc.) without noticeable pain or discomfort

Several factors also come into play when determining any type of surgery success. With a discectomy, the main ones include the location of the damaged disc, whether or not the entire disc is removed, and the extent and nature of the symptoms related to the problem disc.

It's Helpful to Set Goals & Establish Expectations

In other words, have a general idea of what you personally expect with regard to your
back surgery recovery time and what you hope to achieve after the recovery period following your microdiscectomy. For example, some patients are pleased if they're able to go about their day without serious or distracting symptoms. However, others hope to get back to a more significant level of activity. Determine ahead of time what your goals and expectations are so you can define discectomy success as it applies to you.

Be Realistic

If you're normally very active, don't expect to run a 10K or get back to more physically demanding sports right away. For microdiscectomy patients, it's safer and more productive to gradually and steadily increase activity levels as their
discectomy recovery progresses. Doing so also reduces the risk of reherniation, which can lead to a return of pre-surgery symptoms after the typical healing and recovery period.

Increase Your Odds of Post-Surgery Success

In addition to what's already been mentioned, there are some other steps you can take to boost your odds of seeing meaningful and longer-lasting results after a discectomy. These include:

• Following doctor/surgeon instructions
• Getting help with more demanding tasks at home
• Not returning to work before being given the green light to do so
• Communicating with your physical therapist so recommendations are more personalized
• Not pushing yourself too far too fast
• Reporting any unusual post-surgery discomfort to your doctor or surgeon

Although discectomy surgery is generally a very successful procedure, a hole is left in the outer wall of the disc. Patients with a large hole in the outer ring of the disc experience 70 percent of all reherniations after surgery. A new treatment, Barricaid, which is a bone-anchored device proven to reduce reherniations, was specifically designed to close the large hole often left in the spinal disc after discectomy. In a large-scale study, 95 percent of Barricaid patients didn’t undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in the 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and doesn’t require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment or how to get access to Barricaid, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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