How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • Go back-and-forth until satisfied
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask FarokhW Your Own Question
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 25
Experience:  Expert
Type Your Medical Question Here...
FarokhW is online now

My sister had a microdiscectomy in September which was said

Customer Question

My sister had a microdiscectomy in September which was said to be successful even though she has lost substantial mobility and has increased pain post op. We have managed to get a photo of recent MRI and would like an opinion from either a radiologist or a neurosurgeon as it looks to me that her spinal cord is still compressed (l5-s1?), unfortunately we was unable to get a sliced view of the area.
Submitted: 23 days ago.
Category: Medical
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
File attached (S4QG6PL)
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
File attached (LT5Z621)
Expert:  FarokhW replied 23 days ago.


My name is***** am an Orthopaedic Surgeon and I may be able to help answer your questions about the spinal surgery your sister had.

May I ask how old your sister is?

How long before the surgery, did your sister have symptoms for?

Did she have pain going down the leg? Did she have any numbness/weakness in the foot and ankle?

Did the symptoms get better at all after surgery?

I will also ask further questions as we go along on this chat if that is OK.


Customer: replied 23 days ago.
My sister is 36. My sister has has issues with her lumber spine from late teens, however it was only last year the scan showed she had substantial compression of the nerve. I believe it to be genetic as I have also had to have a microdiscectomy at the exact same location however I was lucky and I was climbing stairs the same day post op.
She had l5 nerve pain travelling half way down her leg.
The surgeon says it’s a successful operation however she has had no relief only worsening of symptoms post op.
Expert:  FarokhW replied 23 days ago.

Thank you for that information and Thanks for attaching the MRI scan sagittal view. I understand your concern about the disc protrusion seen at L5-S1 level. There could be a number of reasons for this post op:

1. MRI changes take a long time to resolve. While the disc fragment that was in the canal could have been removed with a micro discectomy, the change may not be apparent on the MRI scan for a long time, sometimes upto a year.

2. It would have helped to see the axial cut of MRI to see where exactly the disc protrusion is and how it is pressing on the nerve.

The Microdiscectomy is primarily done for leg pain (radiculopathy) rather than back pain. The disc itself is degenerated as seen on this scan (reduced disc space and darker on MRI) this would mean that some back pain remaining or worsening after surgery may be expected, however the sharp pain radiating down the leg is expected to resolve after surgery.

3. The retrieval of disc fragment may be incomplete. Or the removal is complete, but there may be a recurrence of disc protrusion after surgery.

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
Sorry I’ve got it wrong the surgeon wasn’t clear this is the before surgery mri
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
This is after
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
He says it’s no longer compressing but has offered further surgery to fix it? Not sure what he’s fixing if it’s not compressed?
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
I found it strange he was unable (or unwilling) to show a sliced view as well
Expert:  FarokhW replied 23 days ago.


The question to ask the surgeon then is:

1. Is he repeating the same surgery that is already done, ie just removing some more softened disc material? OR,

2. Is he fusing the disc space between L5 and S1 after further decompressing the canal?

And the choice of surgery would depend on the exact symptoms your sister is experiencing and clinic findings on examination.

Does she experience more leg pain or more back pain currently?

Expert:  FarokhW replied 23 days ago.

May I suggest that the best way forward would be, to speak to the current surgeon explaining your anxiety about having the second operation and asking him questions until you are satisfied you have the right answers. Spinal surgeries are complex and there is always a risk (however small) that things may turn out completely as expected.

If there are trust issues, then the next best step would be to get a second opinion in person asking your GP to refer you to another local spine surgeon.

In the meantime, symptoms would need managing with anti-inflammatory medications, local hot water fomentation, and physiotherapy (this really helps when done right)

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
He said he will remove more of the disc but it isn’t compressed he didn’t mention a fusion at all. I asked him why he would remove disc if not compressing the nerve and he said that the surgery was a success so it must be caused by the disc however his logic doesn’t make sense to me. The pain is in lower back and also extending to the legs. She was mobile before the surgery although in a lot of pain, now Social services have had to get her a career to come in and get her out of bed in a morning. My view is that if her mobility is so severely deteriorated post surgery is that the surgery wasn’t a success. Do you think it would be wise to fuse l5-s1?
Expert:  FarokhW replied 23 days ago.

That does sound like she is in a lot of pain and I am really sorry to hear that.

Fusion surgery is never the first choice in a simple disc prolapse surgery. Fusion at one level, puts an extra strain on the next level above, with chances of that level undergoing more wear and tear (degeneration). However fusion is sometimes necessary to relieve symptoms and when done right, it works wonders.