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Your spine is made up of a column of bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are joined together by small facet joints and spongy discs that sit between your vertebrae. Facet joints help to stabilise your spine.

What happens during a medial facetectomy?

A medial facetectomy takes between 1-2 hours and is usually performed under general anaesthetic. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) in your back. They will remove part of the facet joint to free any trapped nerves. They will close the incision with stitches and dress the wound.

After your medial facetectomy

Immediately after your surgery you will be taken to the 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 room

Once you are 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. Be sure and tell us if you are in any pain.

Some patients have difficulty passing urine after this surgery. If you are in any discomfort please tell a member of our Healthcare Team.

You will be encouraged to get up and move around as soon as possible - usually within 24 hours of your operation. Please wait for a member of our Healthcare Team to help you out of bed for the first time.

A physiotherapist will visit you to advise you on any restrictions and give you exercises to help you regain mobility. You may be advised to avoid bending, twisting or lifting any heavy for the first six weeks following surgery.

Going home after medial facetectomy

The length of your stay in hospital will depend on the degree of surgery performed. Be sure and discuss this with your surgeon.

Any stitches or staples will be removed 10 - 14 days after your operation.

You will not be able to drive or return to work until you are released to do so at your follow-up appointment with your consultant. Please arrange for someone to take you home on the day of your discharge.

You may feel very tired and sore for the first few weeks. It is important to rest and allow your body to heal.

You will be encouraged to walk during your recovery. Start with short distances and build up slowly. Avoid sitting for long periods. Keeping mobile will help you to avoid DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities following medial facetectomy. 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
  • Chest infection

Specific complications of medial facetectomy:

  • Bleeding in the spinal column
  • Continued pain or numbness
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Infection in the spine
  • Nerve damage
  • Leaking of spinal fluid

Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your surgeon?

Find your nearest hospital that provides this treatment
Bournemouth  

67 Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1RW

01202 291866
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Cambridge  

4 Trumpington Road, Cambridge, CB2 8AF

01223 370919
Overall rating Outstanding
Chester  

Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QP

01244 680 444
Overall rating Good
Ipswich  

Foxhall Road, Ipswich, IP4 5SW

01473 279100
Overall rating Good
Plymouth  

Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG

01752 775861
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Taunton  

Staplegrove Elm, Taunton, TA2 6AN

01823 286991
Overall rating Good

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