Prolapsed Disc Surgery

Prolapsed Disc Surgery

Prolapsed disc surgery is a common type of spinal surgery which can be done either in the lumbar (lower back) or cervical (neck) region.  The spinal disc is composed of two general parts, the tough fibrous outer layer and a soft gelatine-like inner core.  In medical terms a prolapse occurs when something falls out and down, such as the rectum or uterus.  A disc is considered prolapsed when the disc tissue extends out and down into the supra-pedicular region. 

There can be many causes of this such as heavy lifting, long-term sitting, or awkward bending or lifting. The prolapse puts pressure on the surrounding nerve which causes pain. Most of the time non-surgical treatments will work. This includes continuing to perform normal activities and the use of pain medications. However if the pain continues for many months or there are other complications, the person may be a candidate for prolapsed disc surgery.

What is Prolapsed Disc Surgery?

Prolapsed disc surgery is simply a surgeon exposing the effected disc and cutting away the prolapsed portion. The surgery is performed in a hospital following general surgical procedures. The patient will then spend a few days recovering from the surgery before being released. After release the patient is put through a rehabilitation programme to strengthen the back and reduce chance of recurrence.

Prolapsed Disc Surgery Procedure

Prolapsed disc surgery is performed under general anaesthetic. The surgeon will make an incision where the damaged disc is located. The surgeon will then move aside the intervening muscle tissue and ligaments to reach the damaged disc. The surgeon is then able to work on the disc. Upon completion of the procedure the patient is sewn up and sent to the recovery room. It is a very invasive procedure.

Recently a new technique is being adopted which is less invasive. It is called endoscopic spinal surgery. The procedure often can be performed using a local anaesthetic and sometimes even as an outpatient procedure, thus a cost savings in terms of overall hospital care and stay. The surgeon makes a 2-3cm incision over the damaged disc. The surgeon then inserts a catheter through which special instruments incorporating a light source, video camera, and tools are passed. The surgeon completes the procedure and sews up the small incision. The patient is able to resume normal activities usually within a day. Since this is a new procedure, the NHS will only allow it under special arrangements. However several private hospitals are making it available.

Costs of Prolapsed Disc Surgery

The NHS does authorise the traditional, invasive prolapsed disc surgery. If deemed necessary by the patient's GP, a booking is scheduled. The patient then follows standard NHS hospital protocol. There are also a number of private hospitals which offer prolapsed disc surgery. However the patient would be required to make their own financial arrangements. Prolapsed disc surgery tends to run in the range of £5,000 to £10,000 or more. The cost depends on whether the patient chooses the traditional or endoscopic procedure. A person considering a private hospital should do so upon the advice and counsel of their GP and/or reputable medical consultant. Most medical insurance plans cover prolapsed disc surgery so the actual out-of-pocket expense is less.

A person suffering from back pain should exhaust all non-surgical treatments before considering prolapsed disc surgery. Once it is determined that surgery is the only viable course of action, the patient should proceed using expert counsel from their GP and consultant. Consideration includes whether to choose an NHS or private hospital and which procedure (invasive or endoscopic). The patient must also understand the risks.