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Is Intubation Necessary during Discectomies?


2.22 - Are-You-Intubated-During-a-Discectomy

A discectomy is a surgical procedure to treat a herniated disc in the spine. During a discectomy, a portion of the herniated disc is removed to alleviate pressure on the nerves surrounding the disc. One question that may come up when considering a discectomy or a less invasive microdiscectomy is whether you will need to be intubated during the procedure. This article will explore the answer to this question and discuss the importance of intubation in certain types of discectomy procedures.

What Happens during a Discectomy?

During your discectomy, the surgeon will remove the damaged portion of the disc and any tissue that is causing pressure on the nerve roots. The surgeon will make an incision over the affected area of the spine to access the affected disc. The herniated portion of the disc will then be removed, and the pressure on the nerve root will be relieved. Depending on your situation, part or all of the disc may need to be removed. Your surgeon may also need to perform spinal fusion surgery to further stabilize your spine. 

What Type of Anesthesia Is Used?

A discectomy typically requires general anesthesia, meaning you will be asleep during the procedure. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will be monitoring your vital signs during surgery, including your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. They will be constantly adjusting the anesthesia in order to keep you comfortable and safe throughout the procedure. Once the discectomy is complete, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will be closely monitored until you are fully awake.

Will I Need to Be Intubated?

While most people do not need to be intubated during a discectomy, it is possible in some cases. This is usually done if there is a risk of complications from the anesthesia, such as aspiration, or if the patient is at risk for difficulty breathing after the procedure. In cases where intubation is necessary, the patient will be monitored closely during and after the procedure to ensure his or her safety. 

Before the procedure begins, the healthcare team will explain the risks and benefits of intubation so you are aware of what to expect. During intubation, a tube is placed in your throat and connected to a ventilator to assist with breathing. Once the tube has been inserted, you will not be able to speak or eat until it is removed. Patients who have been intubated often experience soreness and discomfort afterward, but this should go away within a few days. Additionally, you may experience coughing, sneezing, hoarseness, and shortness of breath. 

It is important to get plenty of rest while recovering from your discectomy to ensure you fully heal. If you have been intubated, you should also follow any instructions given by your healthcare team regarding medications and follow-up care. Intubation can be frightening, but with proper care and monitoring, you can safely undergo this procedure and enjoy relief from back pain.

The need for intubation during a discectomy will vary according to each patient’s specific needs. Recovery time also varies among individuals and depends on factors such as whether the patient has a large hole in the outer ring of the disc after surgery. If the hole in the disc is larger than a standard pencil eraser, the patient has a significant risk of experiencing a reherniation. Patients with a large hole in the outer ring of the disc are more than twice as likely to reherniate after surgery. These reherniations often require additional surgery or even a larger spinal fusion operation. Barricaid is a bone-anchored device shown to reduce reherniations by closing the hole in the disc after a discectomy, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not 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, you may ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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