The intervention


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Portrait du Pr Karl Schaller
Karl Schaller
Head of Division

What will happen during the intervention?

In the operating room, you will be positioned to lie on your stomach. The physician will carry out a radiological exam to precisely locate the area of the herniated disc. After making a cutaneous incision a few centimeters long, the neurosurgeon will remove the hernia and possibly part of the disc.

It may be necessary to insert a small hose (drain or Redon) in the area of the incision to allow the flow of blood. This hose causes no pain and will usually be removed after 48 hours.

The operation usually takes between one hour to an hour and a half. It is carried out under general anesthesia.

What are the potential complications?

The following complications may occur:

  • rarely, nerves may be damaged (less than 1% of cases), resulting in a decrease in strength or sensitivity in the legs, or even horse tail syndrome.
  • in 3 to 5% of cases, pain, weakness of the leg or tingling may persist.
  • in less than 1% of cases, the wound may become infected. This complication is effectively treated with an antibiotic. A repeat intervention may be necessary. Sometimes the infection affects the intervertebral disc, which will require bed rest for several weeks, or wearing a corset.
  • in 5% of cases, a hematoma can form at the site of the operation. It is resorbed without any special treatment in 80% of cases. A repeat intervention is sometimes necessary to remove this hematoma.
  • in 1% of cases, the cover (dural sac) that surrounds the nerve structures may be affected. This lesion will be repaired during the course of the intervention. However, bed rest for 48 hours is recommended. A second intervention is indicated in some cases.
  • in 1 in 1000 cases, a hemorrhage may occur during the course of the intervention, which sometimes requires a blood transfusion.

Sciatica may recur in around 5% to 10% of cases.
Most often, the same signs that were present before the intervention accompany this recurrence.
It may occur immediately or a long time after the intervention (several months).

Last update : 15/02/2019