Location of incision for Lumbar Discectomy

Patient

Q: I recently had a discectomy on L5 S1 due to a herniated disc. Looking at the incision, it seems very high. The bottom of the incision is about 3 inches long, and is a min of 1.5" above the disc problem. Is this normal or should I be concerned as to whether the procedure was performed in the wrong location? Thanks

Doctor

A:   When performing a discectomy the incision is usually placed over the disc space to be operated on. The fact that your incision does not seem to have been at the location does not mean that the wrong disc was operated on. During the procedure your body is position in a peculiar way in order to enable the surgeon to have adequate exposure. A good way to tell if the correct procedure was done is to compare your symptoms before and after surgery. IF you are still unsatisfied, then simply ask your surgeon to show you the x-rays before and after surgery. Even without much medical knowledge you should be able to appreciate the difference.

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