Intervertebral Disc Microsurgery in Austria

OA Dr. Clemens Lothaller

Medical fields:
General medicine

Dr. Lothaller, herniated discs can usually be treated conservatively. In which cases is an operation indicated?

An operation is absolutely necessary if there are neurological disorders (paralysis) in the arms or legs. The operation should then be carried out as soon as possible. If "only" pain and numbness prevail, an operation can still be postponed, but if there is no improvement about 4 weeks after the onset of the disease and despite therapy, the operation is also recommended.

What can happen if a massive herniated disc is not treated adequately?

The nerve damage can lead to permanent symptoms of paralysis that are no longer reversible. Nerve damage can also cause chronic pain and sensory disturbances. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor quickly and start treatment.

What is meant by microsurgical disc surgery?

This procedure is a minimally invasive operation in which the surrounding tissue is traumatized as little as possible. The thecal sac or the spinal cord respectively, as well as the affected nerves and the herniated disc are visualized with the help of a special surgical microscope inserted through a skin incision a few centimeters long on the back. In this way, the operation can be carried out particularly safely (without damaging the nerves).

The use of intervertebral disc implants has proven itself in intervertebral disc operations on the cervical spine. How is this done, and what are the advantages?

Since a cervical disc surgery is usually operated from the front and the disc is completely removed, a replacement must then be fitted as an interposition. So-called carbon cages, which are available in different sizes, have proven very effective. Although the two affected vertebrae are permanently connected, the patient's mobility is not restricted in any way.

How long does an intervertebral disc operation usually take and how is the anesthesia administered?

The operation takes about one hour and is usually performed under general anesthesia, but spinal anesthesia is also possible.

How long does the hospital stay last, how long does the convalescence last? When can physiotherapy be started after the operation?

The patient is able to get up the day after the operation and physiotherapy is started. After about 4 days, the patient can leave the hospital. You should rest physically for about 6 weeks, then you can pursue all your activities again.

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