Discectomy or Microdiscectomy

Discectomy or microdiscectomy, also referred to as microdecompression, is one of the most common minimally invasive spine surgery procedures. The primary goal of a microdiscectomy is to take pressure off your nerves to ease pain and symptoms associated with a bulging or herniated disc.

Traditional open discectomies have long been used to remove damaged intervertebral discs and relieve pressure on nerves at the cost of a large incision and disruption of muscle tissue. Microdiscectomies have the same goal but utilize unique instruments and visualization tools that permit the surgeon to make very small cuts and reduce surgical trauma.

Who Needs a Microdiscectomy?

A microdiscectomy is typically carried out if (a) fragment of your intervertebral disc has broken away and it’s pressing on your nerves or spinal cord; or (b) your is undamaged but protruding and pressing on nerves or your spinal cord.

The Microdiscectomy Procedure

A microdiscectomy takes about an hour in the operating room under general anesthesia. Like microlaminectomies, microdiscectomies are carried out via 3 main approaches:

Mini-open: This approach resembles an open discectomy, however with this strategy, your specialist utilizes unique surgical devices and tools to see your spinal column through much smaller incisions.

Tubular: With this approach, your surgeon inserts a tube via a tiny incision and carefully pushes it through your back muscles up until it gets to your vertebrae. Additional tubes are used to gradually open up a path for the surgeon to reach the surgery site with specialized instruments.

Endoscopic: With this approach, a tiny camcorder, which is called an endoscope, is inserted with a tube, which allows your surgeon to see your vertebrae and operate on it with miniaturized instruments.

Your surgeon will pay cautious attention to your nerve roots throughout surgery and will examine the area around your disc to make certain there are no additional disc fragments that need to be removed. Generally, just a small component of your disc is taken out–specialists seldom take out most or all of your disc with this procedure.

After a Microdiscectomy

A successful microdiscectomy ought to accomplish what a standard open discectomy accomplishes however with a quicker, less unpleasant rehabilitation. Although many patients see some or total improvement of their symptoms following the procedure, the discomfort could come back or the disc could re-herniate. Your care providers at the Advanced Spine Institute of Greater Boston will certainly guide you as to when you can return to exercising and other normal activities.