Before you consent to any sciatica procedure, it’s important to explore your surgical options. Sciatica, or the pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness that affects the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet on one or both sides of the body, arises due to compression of the sciatic nerve. This nerve compression may be caused by a bulging or herniated disc, bone spurs, calcified ligaments or other anatomical abnormalities.
Types of procedures
A sciatica procedure is typically performed in one of two ways: an open spine surgery or a minimally invasive procedure. While both of these surgical methods aim to relieve pressure on a compressed sciatic nerve, the approach each method takes is markedly different. Understanding these differences is important when considering surgery.
- Open back surgery – This type of surgery is categorized as highly invasive because a large incision and soft tissue dissection are required. Once a surgeon has accessed the problem area of the spine, he or she may need to remove large portions of bone, intervertebral discs, ligaments and other anatomical components. In these cases, spinal fusion (permanently affixing two vertebrae together with bone grafts and implants) may also be required to restore proper spinal support.
- Minimally invasive spine procedures – These types of procedures are an alternative to open spine surgery, utilizing an endoscope, camera, and small surgical tools. The main difference between an open back surgery and a minimally invasive sciatica procedure is that musculature and other soft tissues remain largely undisturbed. This is possible due to a small incision – typically less than 1 inch in length – through which a series of tubes is inserted. The tubes push aside soft tissues and allow the surgical tools to be funneled to the affected area of the sciatic nerve.
Minimally invasive sciatica procedure candidacy
Not all patients are candidates for a minimally invasive sciatica procedure, but the orthopedic experts at Laser Spine Institute can help you determine whether this procedure is right for you. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute has helped tens of thousands of people find relief from sciatica and other spinal conditions.