Slipped Disc Surgery

Slipped disc surgery — exploring different surgical approaches for slipped discs

Slipped disc symptoms are often treatable with conservative (non-surgical) therapy, so slipped disc surgery is only recommended for the small minority of people who have tried conservative treatments but still experience severe and debilitating symptoms. The purpose of slipped disc surgery is to remove any bone or disc matter causing pressure on the spinal cord and nerve endings, and also to enhance the structural stability of the spine. These operations are often referred to as decompression surgery or fusion surgery, respectively.

Traditional open back slipped disc surgery

Traditional open back surgery is performed in a hospital. The surgeon makes a large initial incision, around 5 to 6 inches in length, and cuts the back muscles away from the spine to gain access to the slipped disc. Recovery from this surgery can take months and can be quite painful due to the collateral damage to the tissue surrounding the spine, and prescription pain medication may be required as the body heals.

There are many traditional surgical approaches to the treatment of degenerative spine conditions like slipped discs. In the case of slipped disc surgery, these surgeries typically fall into one of two categories — decompression surgeries that are designed to make more room in the spine for nerve roots or the spinal cord, and fusion surgeries that include the removal of a damaged disc and grafting the adjacent vertebrae together.

One of the most commonly recommended open spine decompression procedures is a laminectomy, or the removal of an entire lamina, which is the roof of a vertebra. The purpose behind removing a portion of the vertebra is to open up space in the spinal canal and decompress constricted nerves that are causing symptoms like chronic pain, weakness and numbness. Another type of open spine surgery is a discectomy, or the removal of part or all of an intervertebral disc. This approach is used when a disc has herniated or ruptured and the extruded disc material is placing pressure on neighboring nerve roots or even the spinal cord itself. In cases where an entire disc is removed, the surgeon will typically stabilize the spine using prosthetics or by fusing neighboring vertebrae together.

Minimally invasive decompression surgeries

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform several types of decompression procedures that are used to treat a slipped disc and other degenerative spine conditions, including the following surgery options:

  • Discectomy – The procedure consists of the removal of a portion of a damaged intervertebral disc to relieve pressure from a neighboring nerve root or the spinal cord.
  • Laminotomy – This decompression surgery involves the removal of a portion — but not all — of the thin, bony roof of a vertebra (lamina) to order to provide more space for spinal components like the spinal cord.
  • Foraminotomy – This procedure consists of removing disc material, bone spurs or other tissue that may be narrowing the intervertebral foramina, or the spaces through which nerve roots exit the spinal column and branch out to other areas of the body. Through this process, the surgeon can remove the source of nerve root compression and alleviate related symptoms.
  • Facet thermal ablation – The process involves deadening a pain-causing nerve within a facet joint to alleviate discomfort, in much the same way that a root canal can treat dental pain. The procedure is most commonly performed in the lower back or lumbar region of the spine, where facet joint degeneration often occurs.

Minimally invasive stabilization surgery: A possible slipped disc treatment

In some cases of severe spinal degeneration, stabilization procedures may be recommended to help alleviate pain and other symptoms. For patients who have spine problems that do not sufficiently respond to conservative treatment, Laser Spine Institute may recommend minimally invasive stabilization surgeries, including:

  • Decompression with Interlaminar Stabilization™ Device – This procedure decompresses an affected area of a spine. A coflex© device (a U-shaped titanium implant) is then inserted into the spine to provide additional stability to the spinal column.
  • Cervical disc replacement surgery – For a slipped disc in the neck, Laser Spine Institute surgeons may remove an affected vertebral disc and replace it with a prosthetic alternative. The aim of this procedure is to reestablish the stability of the spine while enhancing the mobility of the neck.
  • Posterior cervical fusion – Through a small incision on the back of the neck, our surgeons access the cervical spine and carefully remove a damaged cervical disc in order to alleviate the pain and other symptoms it is causing. Afterward, the surrounding vertebrae are fused together for additional stability.
  • Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF) – Like the posterior cervical fusion, this surgery involves the removal of a slipped or ruptured cervical disc, as well as the restabilization of the affected area of the spine. In contrast to a posterior cervical fusion, this slipped disc surgery is performed using a small incision on the front of the neck rather than the back.
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) – A TLIF includes the removal of a damaged disc in the lumbar spine in order to decompress affected nerve roots or the spinal cord. The adjacent vertebrae are then fused together.
  • Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) – An LLIF is used to decompress affected areas of the spine through the removal of a damaged disc and stabilize the adjacent vertebrae. The procedure is performed through a small incision on the side of the back as a way of limiting damage to the spinal muscles and other tissue.
  • Sacroiliac joint fusion – This procedure involves the fusing of a wing of the pelvis (ilium) to the sacrum (the very bottom section of the spine). It is performed to restabilize the sacroiliac (SI) joint, especially as a treatment of vertebral slippage, a condition known as spondylolisthesis.

Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive decompression and stabilization surgeries may differ in their specific approaches, but they share many common benefits. All of our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, as opposed to traditional open spine procedures that typically require several days of postsurgical hospitalization. Plus, when compared to traditional slipped disc surgery options, our procedures utilize a much smaller incision and rely on moving muscles aside to access the spinal column instead of cutting them.

If you’re considering slipped disc surgery, be sure to investigate the minimally invasive procedures that Laser Spine Institute performs. Our procedures have been very successful in treating slipped or herniated discs, spinal stenosis, bone spurs and many other spinal conditions. To learn more about our innovative slipped disc surgery options, contact Laser Spine Institute today.