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Plymouth Hospital

Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG

01752 775861
Customer services 01752 788088
Switchboard 01752 775 861
Outpatients 01752 761 805
Pathology South West 01392 262 165
Radiology 01752 761 826

Why choose Nuffield Health Plymouth Hospital for your lumbar discectomy surgery?

At Nuffield Health Plymouth Hospital our expert spinal surgeons can provide you with rapid access to lumbar discectomy surgery. Our leading spinal consultants have built an impressive reputation in Devon and the surrounding areas for their excellent surgical outcomes and expertise.

If you suffer from herniated discs (slipped discs in the back), you may want to consider having a lumbar discectomy to treat your condition. Our expert spine consultants are fully supported by our attentive nursing team, who are dedicated to maintaining your care and comfort whilst admitted at Nuffield Health Plymouth Hospital.

We believe the recovery period after your lumbar discectomy is just as important as the surgery itself, that's why any additional aftercare required is completely covered by our unique Nuffield Health Promise to you.

Why you might need a lumbar discectomy?

  • Your back is made up of 24 hollow bones held together by fibrous plates called discs
  • Your discs can become worn or injured, causing the soft centre of the disc to push out of its normal space. This is called a herniated disc
  • Sometimes herniated discs put pressure on the nerves in your spine
  • This may make you feel pain running over your hip and down your leg called sciatic pain
  • You may also feel “pins and needles” or numbness in your leg and lower back pain.

Alternatives to lumbar discectomy

When your symptoms first develop your GP may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and/or physiotherapy. If the pain remains or increases you may be offered an epidural injection.

If your symptoms persist or get worse you may be referred to a spinal consultant. They may order x-rays or an MRI scan. Based on the results of these procedures your consultant may recommend a lumbar discectomy.

Before your lumbar discectomy in Plymouth

Before you come into hospital for your operation, you will be asked questions about your health by one of our nurses. Further "pre-assessment" questions may be asked over the phone, or you might be asked to come into the hospital for some simple tests, such as a blood test, a urine sample or swabs to check for MRSA.

What happens during lumbar discectomy surgery?

  • Lumbar discectomy is usually performed under general anaesthetic
  • Your surgeon will make an incision in your lower back near the affected area. They will move the muscles to expose the bones
  • A very small piece of the bony cover of your spinal cord will be removed so the surgeon can access the herniated disc
  • They will remove only the herniated portion of the disc relieving the pressure on nearby nerves
  • The muscles will be moved back in place and both muscle and skin incisions will be closed using stitches
  • A dressing will be applied to the wound.

After your lumbar discectomy at Nuffield Health Plymouth Hospital

  • Immediately after your surgery you will be taken to our recovery area
  • Staff will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing
  • If you are in any pain be sure and tell the recovery room staff
  • When you are stable a nurse will take you to your room.

Back in your private hospital room

  • Once back in your room, our nursing team will continue to check on you to make sure you are recovering well
  • After you’ve recovered from any effects of the anaesthetic, you can have something to eat and drink
  • In order to prevent blood clots (DVT) you may need to wear support (compression) stockings
  • Sometimes patients experience difficulty in passing urine and emptying their bladder following this procedure
  • You may need a catheter to help you pass urine in the first few hours following your operation
  • A physiotherapist will visit you to teach you some exercises and show you how to move about for the first few weeks
  • You may be asked to walk up and down stairs prior to discharge.

Going home following lumbar discectomy

  • Depending on the extent of your surgery you may stay in hospital overnight
  • You will not be able to drive so please arrange for someone to drive you home
  • You will be very tired and you may need help with daily activities at first
  • You should avoid heavy lifting, bending, twisting and sitting for long periods until your followup visit with your surgeon. In addition you should not drive until your followup visit
  • Your stitches will need to be removed 10-14 days following surgery
  • Be sure a discuss your return to work with your surgeon.

Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities following a lumbar discectomy. As with any surgery there can be complications:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (incision)
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots (DVT - deep vein thrombosis)
  • Difficulty passing urine.

Specific complications of lumbar discectomy:

  • Continued pain or numbness down your leg
  • Numbness between your legs, loss of normal bowel and bladder control and, in men, problems with having an erection
  • Tear of the thin membrane that covers the nerves in your spine
  • Infection of the intervertebral disc.
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