A microdiscectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove a ruptured or herniated portion of a disc. This procedure is commonly used when a herniated disc needs to be treated but does not necessarily need to be entirely removed from the spine and replaced with an artificial disc or wire fusion. For many patients, a microdiscectomy is recommended after several months of conservative treatment have failed to alleviate the pain and symptoms of a herniated disc.

A herniated disc occurs when the outer portion of the disc tears and releases internal disc material into the spinal canal. The displaced disc material can press against nearby spinal nerves, which can cause a number of painful and chronic symptoms. These symptoms include back pain as well as numbness, tingling and weakness in the extremities. Since herniated discs most frequently occur in the lumbar (lower) spine, the symptoms are usually felt in the low back, buttocks, legs and feet.

The goal of a microdiscectomy is to remove any disc material placing pressure on the nerves, thereby alleviating symptoms. This procedure is performed two main ways: traditional microdiscectomy and minimally invasive microdiscectomy.

Traditional surgery versus minimally invasive surgery

The traditional approach to this procedure is invasive and involves the cutting and tearing of the muscles surrounding the spine, which increases a patient’s recovery time and risk of complication.

During the procedure, a surgeon removes a portion of bone necessary to access the herniated disc, and then uses small tools to remove any disc material and tissue required for the decompression. The aim of the procedure is the same as that of a discectomy, except a microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive procedure performed with the aid of microscopic magnification. With a microdiscectomy, the tissue and muscle damage is minimal, so scarring is reduced and recovery time is much quicker than that of traditional open back surgery.

However, there is a surgical option than is a safer and effective alternative to traditional microdiscectomy — a minimally invasive microdiscectomy at Laser Spine Institute. Instead of approaching the spine through a large incision, the surgeons at Laser Spine Institute use a small, 1-inch incision that does not disrupt the surrounding muscles and soft tissue. Through this small incision, a portion of the damaged disc is removed to strengthen the spine and free the pinched nerve root.

For more information about the advantages of our minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute, please contact our team today.