This procedure is utilised to relieve the pain caused by degenerative disc disease. It is a minimally invasive procedure, the aim of which is to replace the abnormal disc nucleus with an artificial disc nucleus to perform like a healthy disc.

The procedure is undertaken under general anaesthetic. An incision is made into the annulus, the outer part of the disc. The effected nucleus is removed and a balloon is inserted. The balloon is filled with a polymer; this forms an implant and restores the disc’s function. The surgeon will approach your disc through the abdomen.

Your Hospital Stay

On average patients will require 2 – 3 nights in hospital. On return to the ward you will be assessed to see whether you can begin drinking yet and slowly build up to eating solids. You may be required to lie flat for several hours, after this time you will be able to sit and lie however you are comfortable.

You will be seen by the physiotherapist who will help you commence mobilising as soon as possible. The following day you will be encouraged to be as independent as allows, i.e. washing and dressing.

During your stay you will be seen by the clinical nurse specialist daily, Monday to Friday and she will be able to answer any queries or concerns.

Medication

On discharge you will be given analgesia. It is advisable that you continue taking your analgesia for at least 1 week post discharge. With most analgesia it is advisable to take a laxative as well as all analgesia has a constipating side effect. If you require further medications your GP should be able to write a prescription or your consultant in your follow up appointment will be able to prescribe further medication.

Mobility

Prior to discharge you need to be as independent as you were pre surgery, if not better. You will be assessed mobilising up and down stairs safely.

When sitting a high backed chair is preferable to a low sofa. Initially sitting maybe uncomfortable, it would be advisable to limit sitting to 20 – 30 minutes at a time.

You will be encouraged to mobilise as much as you like.

Travelling

Driving: This is at your surgeon’s discretion; usually 2-3 weeks after surgery. You should be able to perform an emergency stop safely. Some discomfort in the effected area may limit you. You are able to be a passenger in a car post procedure. Sit in the passenger seat, seat reclined and a cushion for support if more comfortable. If the journey is greater than 45 minutes have a break, stretch your legs at regular intervals.

Flying: This is at your surgeon’s discretion. You should be able to fly within 2-3 weeks. When flying it is advisable to recline your seat and regularly walk up and down the gangway.

Work

Your consultant will advise you on this.4 -6 weeks off work are advisable. If possible avoid public transport. If you do need to use the underground, travel at quiet times and avoid rush hour. If you are in a sedentary job regularly stand and walk around. If you have an active job you may require a longer period off work and consider lighter duties on your return.

Exercise

Walking is initially the best exercise for you, each day increase the amount of walking you undertake. Return to your normal exercise regime gradually. You should increase your levels of exertion over a 6-8 week period, building your stamina towards resuming normal activities.

Do not lift anything over 3 Kg in weight. No bending and no twisting until advised otherwise.

Wound Care

Your wound will be covered with a large dressing initially. This will be reduced before your discharge. You will have a waterproof dressing insitu on discharge; this will need to be changed every 3 days. Your surgeon will have closed your wound with staples or sterisrips. These should be removed 10 – 14 days post surgery. Arrangements should be made with your practise nurse. If you do not have a practise nurse alternative arrangements should be made with the ward staff.

Once the staples or steristrips have been removed the wound can be left uncovered and can get wet. You should be showering, not bathing until you are reviewed by your surgeon.

All information given is guidelines and may vary from patient to patient.