Intervertebral disc surgery overview

Many patients suffer from a degenerative disc condition, such as a herniated disc, bulging disc or ruptured disc. These conditions are commonly caused by the natural aging process of the spine and result in local or radiating pain in the back and extremities, tingling, numbness, weakness, limited mobility and sharp pains during certain movements. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor for further tests to determine the cause of your pain.

While some degenerative disc conditions can be treated through conservative methods of treatment, many of these conditions may need to be treated surgically due to the deterioration of the components of the spine. To learn about your options for interverbal disc surgery, read the information provided in the following article.

When does intervertebral disc surgery become necessary?

The spine is responsible for supporting and stabilizing the body’s weight and movements. Over time, as the body gains weight and repeats movements, the components of the spine compress and wear down. When the vertebrae of the spine compress, they clamp down on the disc found in between each set of vertebrae. This causes a degenerative disc disease. The disc either compresses and bulges into the spinal canal or it thins and deteriorates under the pressure of the vertebrae.

Because of the degenerative nature of these conditions, conservative treatments are often not effective methods of pain relief. Conservative treatments aim to realign the spine and strengthen the surrounding muscles. While this is effective for spine conditions that cause the spine to move out of alignment, it is not effective in rebuilding deteriorating components of the spine. Intervertebral disc surgery is usually the best option to help treat a degenerative disc disease, though you should always consult your doctor to accurately assess your situation.

Types of intervertebral disc surgery

There are two main types of surgical treatment to help treat a degenerative disc disease: traditional open back surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. Traditional open back surgery is performed in a hospital setting and, due to the highly invasive nature of the procedure, requires two to five days of postoperative hospitalization for monitored recovery. The procedure begins with a large 6- to 8-inch incision in the back, resulting in excessive scar tissue. This incision cuts through the surrounding muscles and soft tissue, increasing your risk of infection and excessive blood loss.

Through this large incision, the surgeon will access your spine. Depending on the severity of your condition, the surgeon will remove either a portion of the diseased disc or the entire diseased disc to free the impacted nerve that is causing you pain. If the entire disc is removed, you will need a bone graft or implant fusion to replace the disc and stabilize the spine. Unfortunately, the fusion portion of a traditional open back surgery has a higher risk of failing due to the excessive scar tissue from the incision blocking the fusion from forming.

At Laser Spine Institute, we have a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ Our minimally invasive surgery provides patients with a lower risk of complication and a shorter recovery period compared to traditional procedures.^ We offer two types of surgery to help treat degenerative disc disease: minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Both procedures are performed in an outpatient setting at one of our seven state-of-the-art surgery centers across the country.

Our goal is to help you find the best treatment option for your needs so you can get back to living an active lifestyle. Because of the minimally invasive nature of our procedures and the muscle-sparing techniques used by our highly skilled team, patients are able to be up and walking within a few hours of surgery.^ If you would like to learn more about the nature of our outpatient procedures, please contact our dedicated team today.

During a minimally invasive decompression surgery, the surgeon will remove only a portion of the diseased disc using a less than 1-inch incision to relieve pressure on the nerve root in the spinal canal. However, if a minimally invasive stabilization surgery is required, the surgeon will remove the entire diseased disc in order to decompress the nerve root. An implant will then be inserted into the empty disc space to stabilize the spine. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our intervertebral disc surgery, ask our team for a free MRI review.* We can help guide you on your road to recovery.