A discectomy is an operation to remove part, or sometimes all, of the disc which is compressing a nerve. It is done when a patient has not got better with physiotherapy, appropriate one to one Pilates, or injections. It may also be recommended to you if you have progressive weakness in the limb, or in an emergency when there are problems with incontinence or going to the toilet.
In a lumbar discectomy, a small incision is made in your back, the muscles are retracted, and small portions of ligament is removed. The correct nerve is identified and carefully retracted so that the protruding disc can be removed. Sometimes, small portions of bone need to be removed but this does not affect the stability of your spine.
In a cervical discectomy, a small incision is made at the front of your neck. The structures in your neck are retracted and the disc removed. An implant is inserted in its place. This is normally a cage or disc replacement.