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Multiple lumbar disc herniations; only one repaired?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, all.

I had my L5-S1 laminotomy-discectomy 2 weeks ago today. I'm doing very well.

When I read my MRI results and the OP notes, I wondered why only the bulging disc at L5-S1 was taken care of, when I have bulging discs at L4-L5 and L3-L4 as well. Arthritis is causing the canal for the nerve root to narrow at L4-L5; wouldn't it have made sense to do something with that bulging disc and the one higher while the neurosurgeon was "in there" fixing the one that held my sciatic nerve hostage?

Just wondering if this is odd or if it's SOP.

Thanks for reading!


  • Hi Rose,

    MRI's often show lots of nasty things, BUT, it doesn't mean they cause any symptoms. For surgeons to decide how to proceed, your symptoms have to "match up" with what they see on the MRI.

    Many MRIs show herniations, yet the person isn't complaining of any pain. So basically, an MRI is only one piece of the puzzle.

    I had the same surgery as you two weeks ago as well, on June 16th. I am very, very happy with the results!

    Best wishes for a pain-free future!

  • Surgeons always want to do as little as possible to solve the problem. It may be that your symptoms or some other testing indicated that only the L5-S1 was the pain generator.

    It is not unusual for anyone over the age of twenty-something to show up having disc bulges on MRIs. Most of them do not cause pain. I would imagine the surgeon concluded that yours were not worth operating on. The less surgery the less the risk that something else might be damaged. Plus, I would assume that they only have this information from imaging studies. With a micro surgery, they were not actually "in there" and able to see anything but the same area they were working on.

    Also, if the surgeon had to "fix" several discs, you probably would have ended up with a fusion, which the doctor wanted to avoid, if possible.

    Glad you are feeling better.
  • Thank you both for your posts. I simply couldn't put two and two together and come up with four like I was supposed to. Your answers shed the much-needed light on the subject.

    I wish you both all the best! <:P
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