Information for the public
Benefits and risks
NICE decided that there is not much good evidence about how well this procedure works or how safe it is. The 5 studies that NICE looked at involved a total of 332 patients.
Generally, they showed the following benefits:
no return of the slipped disc within 2 years after surgery
reduced disability 6 weeks after surgery, still seen after 2 years
less back and leg pain than before the procedure, still seen after 2 years
less height loss in the disc 1 year after surgery.
The studies showed that the risks of inserting an implant after discectomy in the lower spine included:
a tear in the outer cover of the spinal cord in 1 patient; this could potentially lead to complications such as headache or infection because of fluid leaking out of the central nervous system
suspected infection of the disc 56 days after surgery in 1 patient, which was successfully treated with antibiotics
further operations needed in 3 patients: 2 because of the slipped disc coming back and 1 because of excessive scar tissue.
If you want to know more about the studies, see the guidance. Ask your health professional to explain anything you don't understand.