Lumbar disc herniation — is a traditional fusion procedure necessary?

If you have a herniated disc in the lumbar (lower) spine and conservative treatments have proven ineffective, you and your doctor may have started to explore surgery. A type of procedure that is often recommended to treat lumbar disc herniation is open spine fusion surgery. This is traditionally performed in a hospital and requires a large muscle-tearing incision to access the spine, remove the damaged disc and insert a stabilizing bone graft into the area.

You may have some anxiety and concerns about undergoing this type of procedure if it has been recommended. This is understandable and is why it’s important to be aware of alternative forms of spine surgery that are available, including the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Making a decision about spine surgery is not easy and the following information is intended to help you make a decision you can feel comfortable with.

Differences between traditional open spine fusion and a minimally invasive procedure

While both approaches are designed to relieve nerve compression caused by a spine condition like lumbar disc herniation, there are some key differences between these two types of procedures.

  • Time. Minimally invasive procedures are conducted on an outpatient basis, allowing the patient to return home or to the comfort of a hotel room the same day as the procedure.^ Traditional open spine fusion surgery requires overnight hospitalization, sometimes for multiple nights.
  • Incision. Traditional open spine fusion requires a 3- to 5-inch incision to access the spine, while minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute can be performed with a less than 1-inch incision, which spares important supporting muscles.
  • Risks and benefits. Minimally invasive spine surgery has a shorter recovery time^ with a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Laser Spine Institute

At Laser Spine Institute our board-certified surgeons+ can treat lumbar disc herniation with a range of outpatient procedures. We offer a minimally invasive discectomy that only requires removal of damaged disc material that is causing nerve compression — helping patients avoid the need for a fusion. For severely damaged discs that do require full disc removal and fusion, our minimally invasive stabilization procedures are an outpatient alternative to traditional open spine fusion.

If you have lumbar disc herniation and are considering traditional open spinal fusion surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute and ask for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.