Matthew Lukas

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Matthew Lukas

Age: 19
Surgery: Lumbar microdiscectomy
Date: April 5, 2001

  • Matt complained that the pain and weakness in his back and left leg was so bad that “I could barely walk
  • I knew I needed surgery, and I came to Dr. Maroon
  • After Matt’s lumbar microdiscectomy, he recounts “I went home the next day and I was back on the baseball field three months later

Matt was a rising star in baseball. In March of 2011, as he was just beginning spring practice as a first baseman and pitcher for Trinity High School in Washington, PA, he complained of pain and weakness in his back and left leg that was so bad that “I could barely walk.” This was particularly aggravating, since several professional baseball teams were scouting him at the time.

“I knew I needed surgery, and I came to Dr. Maroon”, Matt said. He had a Lumbar microdiscectomy at the L3-4 level by Dr. Maroon at Presbyterian University Hospital on April 5, 2001. He stated that he had immediate relief and was up walking the halls the night after surgery.

Matt completed physical therapy and did very well. He resumed playing baseball in July and played through early October of the same year. However, in late October, he developed pain once again. “I had severe pain in my right leg, which we thought was a hamstring pull”, states Matt, “but the pain worsened, and we came to see Dr. Maroon again.” An MRI showed a severely herniated disc on the right side at the L5-S1 level, that was severely compressing the nerve to the back of his right leg and foot. Surgery was scheduled at Sewickley Valley Hospital.

photomatt lukas newspaper

Matt was very worried, since he had just agreed to sign a scholarship agreement to play baseball for Xavier University, a Division I school in Cincinnati. “I didn’t know if I would lose my scholarship and perhaps a shot at the Pros”, he said.

On November 7, 2002 he had a microdiscectomy at the L5-S1 level. Again, the surgery was a success. “I went home the next day and I was back on the baseball field three months later”, said Matt. “I will be playing first base and pitcher for Xavier this fall and I believe I will be able to make it to the Pros.”

Discussion: Matt’s presentation of acute leg pain and weakness from a herniated disc is not uncommon.  After all, nerves are like electrical wires that send signals to different parts of the body – so if the signal is blocked at the level of the spine (e.g. from a herniated disc pressing on a nerve), the normal function of that part of the body is disrupted.

In Matt’s case, first his left leg and later his right leg was affected by a herniated disk. The microdiscectomy procedure is designed to relieve the pressure off the nerves and allow for normal electrical signals to return. Matt’s condition and recovery may not be representative for all patients, but his quick improvement is rather typical. Also, his successful reentry back into competitive sports accentuates the fact that microdiscectomy is an enabling surgery, and that (high level) sports after surgery is possible in most patients.