Microdiscectomy is a surgical procedure by which herniated spinal are removed. Herniated discs occur when a portion of the vertebral disc protrudes out of the column thereby causing immense pain. This is because, it puts additional pressure on the nerves and results in increased sensitivity, restricted physical mobility and suffering. Microdiscectomy thereby provides an alternative method to extensive surgeries, and allows curing with the help of a minute incision. In general, microdiscectomy cost varies from $18000 to $57,000 and depends on a number of factors. 

What is Microdiscectomy?

A surgical procedure implemented for removal of herniated spinal disc is known as microdiscectomy. Although the procedure does not provide necessary cure to lower back aches or other problems, yet it provides complete relief in case of spinal hernia. Spinal hernia is caused when the spinal disc squeezes out of the column and ends up affecting nerves. This eventually causes loss of physical motion, excessive pain, hypersensitivity of the region, etc. 

Ideal Candidates for Microdiscectomy 

Microdiscectomy provides an easier alternative to invasive surgical procedures. However, for the operation to be performed, one has to decide on the candidacy for microdiscectomy. Hence, ideal candidates are decided if the individual:

  • Suffers from disc hernia
  • Shows persistent pain in either or both legs, possibly indicating sciatica. This occurs due to excessive pressure buildup a on the sciatic nerve as a result of herniated disc. 
  • Has persistent pain over a region for more than twelve weeks
  • Is unresponsive towards conservative treatments and physiotherapy 

Factors Affecting the cost of Microdiscectomy

Microdiscectomy cost may vary due to a number of reasons. Besides depending on the country where the procedure is being performed, it also depends on:

  • Extent of microdiscectomy required or the number of vertebral discs affected
  • Extent of damage occurred
  • Whether it is performed individually or along with other surgical procedure
  • Healthcare benefits availed
  • Follow up treatments required for the procedure to be completely successful.
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Microdiscectomy is also known as microdecompression or cervical microdiscectomy. It is one of the most commonly performed spine surgery procedures.

Microdiscectomy or cervical microdiscectomy is preferred for patients with a lumbar herniated disc. The main goal of a discectomy is to relieve the pressure on a spinal nerve root by removing the material causing the pain. Traditionally, this purpose was solved by an open technique called lumbar discectomy surgery, which involves making a large incision to cut some of the back muscles, leading to a slow and painful recovery. Nowadays, an advanced form of surgery called microdiscectomy can achieve the same goal that too with the help of a small incision and fewer injury to back muscles. As a result, the recovery takes less time and is less painful.  A special microscope is used in microdiscectomy to view the disc and nerves. The larger view allows the surgeon to make a smaller incision, causing less damage to the surrounding tissues.

 

When is microdiscectomy needed?

Sciatica is a condition caused by compression of the spinal nerve, which generally results in chronic pain in the legs of the patients. This compression of the spinal nerve is frequently the result of a herniated lumbar disc.  As a hernia grows, the damaged tissue extends into the spinal column and pushes on the nerves. This condition causes the nerves to send pain signals to the brain and the brain interprets the pain source to be coming from the legs.

Most commonly, sciatica heals naturally or with the help of medication in a few weeks. But, if sciatica lasts more than 12 weeks after taking oral medicines, patients may benefit from discectomy. Discectomy is also used for the treatment of spondylosis and lumbar spinal stenosis. While spondylosis occurs due to degenerative osteoarthritis of the vertebrae, lumbar spinal stenosis occurs due to narrowing of the spinal canal leading to nerve compression. The latter may also warrant the need for a spinal stenosis surgery.

Lumbar discectomy surgery is typically performed for rehabilitation of a herniated disc. The same thing is done during microdiscectomy, but with the help of a special microscope. During this procedure, a small part of the bone over the nerve root and disc material under the nerve root is taken out, which finally result in relieving pressure on the spinal nerve column. The microdiscectomy treatment starts by giving general anesthesia to the patient. The patient will be unconscious during the entire surgery and is not able to feel anything. Preoperative intravenous antibiotics are given before the surgery.

The procedure is performed with the patient lying face down, generally using a special operating table with special paddings. The surgical region is cleansed with a cleaning solution.  A one-to two-centimeter incision is made directly over the area of the herniated disc. Special retractors and a lighted operating microscope are used to allow the surgeon to see the region of the spine. It helps in minimizing or avoid cutting of the adjacent muscles and tissues.

Before removing a herniated disc, a small piece of bone called lamina is removed from the affected vertebra. This is called a laminotomy, a procedure which allows the surgeon to fully visualize the herniated disc. Small scissor-like tools and grasping instruments are used to remove the protruding disc material. Lastly, the incision area is washed out with sterile water containing antibiotics and the deep fascial layer and subcutaneous layers are closed with a few sutures. The skin is fixed up using special surgical glue and does not require bandages.

The microdiscectomy recovery time is much less than any other invasive procedure. Typically, the patient can expect to leave the hospital within 24 hours of the surgery. Patients may be advised to meet a physical therapist before leaving the hospital. The therapist will instruct the patient on how to reduce twisting and bending of the back. The therapist may advise some exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles around the spine.

Patients are advised not to drive, sit for a prolonged period, lift anything heavy and bend over immediately after the surgery. The patient is able to resume normal activities after two weeks, but they are advised to avoid lifting heavy objects for at least four weeks after the surgery. Full recovery after microdiscectomy procedure takes at least four to six weeks.

Microdiscectomy: Risks and Complications

Microdiscectomy is a faster pain relief option than nonsurgical treatment in case of a lumbar herniated disc, but it is not significantly clear that whether surgery makes a difference in what treatment may be needed later on.

Some post-microdiscectomy researchers determined that people who have had microdiscectomy have reported similar improvements as other treatments after one year of surgery. Although it is a less invasive procedure in comparison to other treatment such as spinal fusion, microdiscectomy also involves certain risks just like any other surgery.

Some of the common microdiscectomy risks are:

  • The very first risk is that surgery does not always work, or it may not work better than any other treatment
  • There is a minimal risk of damaging the spine or any other nerves
  • There is a slight risk of some kind of infections
  • Bleeding
  • Leaking spinal fluid
  • Problems associated with general anaesthesia

Frequently Asked Questions

Like most countries, hospitals in South Africa are based upon public and private healthcare systems. There are three main levels of healthcare based upon the payment method of the patient.
  • The full paying patients are those who usually prefer to be treated by a doctor working in the private sector. They can also be funded by an external source. Many non-South African citizens also prefer this treatment service.
  • Fully subsidized patients are those who have been referred from a Primary Healthcare Service Hospital.
  • Partially subsidized patients are patients whose costs are subsidized based on the amount of their income.
The public healthcare system has three main centers for health under its wing:
  • Clinics - These are run by trained professionals and nurses. They can serve as the first point of contact for a patient.
  • Community Healthcare Centre - This is a bigger setup, complete with full-fledged services and doctors and nurses.
  • Hospital - A patient usually gets here after a referral from a clinic or community health center. One can also go in for emergencies. A hospital provides various services like performing surgery and treating chronic illnesses.
Hospitals in South Africa are gearing up to tackle major illnesses and to provide better treatment options. The South African government is also working to introduce policies and towards accommodating more patients from all across the world. It is a great country to find affordable treatment options.
The Joint Commission International (JCI) accredits and certifies most health care organizations and programs all around the world. Joint Commission International Accreditation and Certification is recognized as the global leader for health care quality of care and patient safety.
Doctors associated with Medigence are of the best quality. We hope to give our patients a pleasant experience and the best doctors we can find. Since South Africa has a lot of requirements in the field of healthcare, the country attracts doctors from all over the world to contribute their services. This can help to ensure that even you receive the best quality of doctors.
One can apply for a visa to South Africa for a period of 90 days. The High Commission of India can then help one decide for how long a visa can be extended. This usually differs from person to person. The Medical Visa allows a person to stay for a maximum of six months with a valid visa. After this, one can go to the FRO office ( Foreigner’s Registration Office ) or FRRO (Foreigner's Regional Registration Office) and request for an extension. Do note that the validity of a visa begins on the day it is issued by the High Commission of India and not on the date of departure. Applications for visas will not be accepted more than 30 days prior to departure.
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While many cities are striving to create some of the best hospitals in South Africa, Durban, Lenasia, and Cape Town already have some very good hospitals for treatment in South Africa. Located in Durban, Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre is a reasonable and affordable hospital in South Africa. Life Kingsbury Hospital in Capetown provides a holistic healing environment for patients. One can also opt for the Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital in Lenasia. This hospital has been running for nearly 30 years now and various medical facilities can be availed from here.

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