18 Mar Microdiscectomy/Microdecompression for Herniated Disc
A herniated disc refers to the herniation of an intervertebral disc (slipped disc). An intervertebral disc is the disc that is located between the vertebrae (spinal bones) that makes up the spine. There are a total of 33 vertebrae that make up the entire spine.
The discs that are located between the vertebrae function to absorb impact and help with the movement of the spine. When there is herniation of the intervertebral disc, it means that one of the discs that is like a rubbery cushion has bulged out. This may be due to the softer center part of the disc rupturing causing part of the disc to push out through a tear causing irritation to the nerves leading to pain, numbness or weakness in the affected limb.
However, there are some patients who do not appear to have any symptoms and therefore do not require any treatment for their herniated discs. One of the most common minimally invasive spinal surgeries is called a microdiscectomy, which is also known as microdecompression and aims to relieve the pressure on the affected nerve to provide relief.
Traditionally, surgery for a herniated disc is usually performed as an open technique. This means that the surgeon makes a large incision which also involves cutting some of the back muscles to allow visual and physical access to the spine. Although this procedure is effective, it may also cause muscle damage and damage to other surrounding structures leading to a slow and more painful recovery when compared to the minimally invasive approach.
Just like traditional open discectomies, microdiscectomy aims to remove the part of the intervertebral disc that bulges out and is compressing the nerve and causing pain. Like other minimally invasive spinal surgeries, this procedure also requires special instruments and cameras that allow the surgeon to make small incisions and view the anatomy of the spine. These small tools help to reduce the damage to the surrounding structures during the procedure leading to a faster and less painful recovery.
This procedure can be used to remove a part of the disc that is bulging and pressing on the nerve or, it can also be used to remove fragments of the disc that have broken away from the disc causing compression on the nerves. There are 3 main techniques for microdiscectomy:
- Mini-open technique – most similar to an open discectomy, but special instruments are used to view the spine through smaller incisions.
- Tubular technique – A tube is inserted into a small incision and pushed gently till it reaches the spine. Expanding tubes are inserted to gradually dilate the area (push away structures instead of having to cut them away) and instruments are used to remove part of the disc.
- Endoscopic – A tiny camera is inserted (endoscope) through a tube to allow visual access and the disc is removed using specialized instruments.
This procedure usually takes about an hour to complete. Most patients report significant pain relief and are able to return quickly to their routines and activities, usually in about 2 weeks. A microdiscectomy is used to accomplish what a traditional open surgery does but with a faster and easier recovery.
Inspired Spine offers highly qualified surgeons that specialize in minimally invasive procedures, including discectomies and fusions. If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic back or leg pain, call today for the top treatment!
- Highsmith JM. What is microdiscectomy. Spine Universe. https://www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/surgery/minimally-invasive/what-microdiscectomy. Accessed 3/5/2017.
- Herniated Disk. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/herniated-disk/home/ovc-20271246. Accessed 3/5/2017.