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Has anyone here had a bilateral discectomy?

jeq1977jjeq1977 Posts: 87
I had a microdiscectomy at L5/S1 4 weeks ago for a broadbased herniation, with more of the tear on the left side. At that point all my pain had been on the left side, so they operated only on the left side. My doctor said that he could operate on both sides at once, but since I wasn't having any pain on the right side he preferred to start out small and do only the left.

I felt fabulous for almost 3 weeks and then all the symptoms came back, literally overnight. My doctor is hoping that it is just a nasty flare up that will be taken care of by a prednisone pack and rest. He also said that I could have reherniated the disk and now have more "stuff" pushing on the left side of the nerve. He ordered an MRI to be sure, which I should have sometime this week.

I am now also having pain on my right side. Its starting out just like the left side did, first pain in my hip, then the thigh and so on. If my MRI shows more stuff on the left in addition to what is already there on the right, he wants to take care of both at once. My doctor didn't want to go into much detail then, because it may just be a flare up and he didn't want to scare me.

If anyone here has had this procedure done, I would really like to hear from you. I had a pretty good, quick recovery from the first one, and would do it again in a heartbeat if necessary. I just wonder how the recovery differs if you have both sides done at once. Is it more time in the hospital or just longer recovery in general? Are there 2 incisions, or can they get at both sides from one larger incision. Any info will help. Thanks.


  • My microdiscectomy was bilateral with just one cut. The surgeon said that it could be done with either one or two, but in my case, one incision was enough.

  • I also had a bilateral laminectomy/diskectomy with one central incision. I really had no choice because my disk was herniated out of both sides and I had bilateral nerve pain all the way down to my feet.

    I'm not a good one to ask about recovery time though because I've had so many complications and it's taken a lot longer for me to get over this than most people.
  • a bilateral discectomy at S1 .like you have NO pain in my left side {all right side pain for me} BUT after the surgery i had had nothing but severe pain in both legs and unbelievable back ache ..this has been going on for the last 15 months .i just had a MRI last week and i am waiting for the results!i may require more surgery oh the joy"""
    i have ..in the past has a L4/L5 laminectomy too
  • Thanks for all the info, I appreciate it. It may amount to nothing, but I feel like this is more than a flare up. Reading all the discussions and posts on this website has been helpful, but there are so many stories of failures, repeat operations, and years of pain and it frightens me. It also makes me really afraid that I am just at the beginning of a long series of spinal complications. I'm only 32, I thought I was too young for all this...
    I hope we are all doing better soon. Thanks again.
  • My initial recovery from the bilateral microdiscectomy was pretty unremarkable - I was back at work within a week and within 6 weeks both legs were feeling normal.

    I have lots of problems now - not sure whether it's from scarring, not enough bone/disc taken out, too much disc removed, the disc being painful, things shifting after surgery, or what (different theories from different docs), but right after surgery things seemed to fit the "normal" recovery timeline.
  • CapsdadCapsdad Posts: 92
    edited 08/28/2013 - 10:53 AM
    Same here. Failed micro D in feb. pain was left side only. After my last epidural the pain is in both legs. I'm getting a bilateral microD next week. I'm scared. They said if it doesn't work again that I'll need a fusion. I've been in tremendous pain for 11 months. Plus I'm getting tired of taking pills everyday
    Left side MicroD l5-s1 2/7/13. Re herniated immediately
    Revision bilateral MicroD and posterior lumbar decompression 9/9/13. Failed. L5-S1 fusion on 3/6/14.
  • I just had my revision bilateral microD and posterior lumbar decompression this past Monday. My left foot feels dead and my legs feel like they don't have enough strength to hold myself up. If anyone wants to trade stories my email is blue-durango@hotmail.com. I don't come on here often but I would like to talk to people more about what we go through daily.
    Left side MicroD l5-s1 2/7/13. Re herniated immediately
    Revision bilateral MicroD and posterior lumbar decompression 9/9/13. Failed. L5-S1 fusion on 3/6/14.
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