Disc surgery — traditional methods

For patients who have exhausted conservative treatments for a bulging disc, the thought of disc surgery can be overwhelming and scary. Before you undergo any type of disc surgery, you should thoroughly research your surgical options and make a confident decision about your treatment. There are several types of disc surgery available to treat conditions like a bulging disc or herniated disc and you should explore as many as you can before committing to one procedure.

If you have questions as you are researching the different surgical options available to you, we encourage you to reach out to our dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute for more information.

Types of traditional open back disc surgery

Traditional open back surgery is a highly invasive procedure involving a large incision that usually tears and detaches the muscles near the spine. This muscle-disrupting approach often increases a patient’s risk complications such as infection and excessive blood loss.

Examples of traditional open spine disc surgery include:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. This surgery is designed to treat a cervical bulging disc or herniated disc. During the procedure, a surgeon will make a 1- to 2-inch incision in the side of the neck to access the damaged disc. Once the damaged disc is located, the surgeon will remove the disc and a corresponding ligament. Then, bone that has been taken from a donor site in the body is used to fill the space where the bulging or herniated disc used to be. This encourages the vertebrae above and below the damaged disc to fuse permanently. Possible complications from this disc surgery include difficulty swallowing, because of the location of the incision, failure to relieve neck or back pain symptoms and damage to the nerve root or spinal cord.
  • Lumbar spinal fusion surgery. This surgery is designed to permanently stop an unstable lumbar vertebral segment from moving. By immobilizing damaged vertebrae and decompressing nerves, it is believed pain should be relieved. For this procedure, a surgeon will use a bone graft to encourage two adjacent vertebrae to become one segment. The graft may come from a donor site in the patient’s hip, from a cadaver, or from an artificial bone substitute. To keep the graft in place until it has a chance to grow, a surgeon may use screws and other implants.

Disc surgery at Laser Spine Institute

Before moving forward with a traditional open back or open neck surgery, you should learn about the safer and effective alternatives at Laser Spine Institute.^ Patients with a bulging disc may undergo a minimally invasive discectomy, which removes a small portion of the disc through a less than 1-inch incision. We also perform a range of minimally invasive stabilization procedures, which is our muscle-sparing approach to spinal fusion surgery. All of our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis at our state-of-the-art centers across the United States. If you would like more information about how our minimally invasive procedures can treat your bulging disc pain and symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

We can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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