A lumbar laminectomy/discectomy is a common surgery to remove fragments of an extruded herniated disc. The image above is a simplification of the procedure:
- The surgeon makes an incision through the skin just off the centerline of the spine. The bony area of the vertebra, called the lamina is exposed and a small portion of it is removed (called a laminectomy).
- A ligament, called the ligamentum flavum, is reflected back to expose the nerves and the extruded disc material.
- The spinal nerve is retracted (moved back) for better exposure of the extruded disc fragments. The fragments are then removed (this is called a discectomy or removal of the damaged disc fragments).
Physical therapy should be prescribed after surgery. While rehabilitation for each individual can differ, treatment usually consists of flexibility exercise, lumbar stabilization/core strengthening, and aerobic exercise. Studies have shown that patients that undergo physical therapy after lumbar discectomy have better outcomes than those that do not receive physical therapy.