Intervertebral disc surgery

Many patients suffer from a degenerative disc condition, such as herniated disc, bulging disc or ruptured disc. These conditions are commonly caused by the natural aging process of the spine, and result in chronic or radiating pain in the back and extremities, in addition to limited mobility and sharp pains during certain movements. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your physician 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 are recommended to seek surgical treatment due to the deterioration of the components of the spine. 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 squeezes out 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 not often 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. Surgery is usually the best option to help treat a degenerative disc disease, though you should always consult your physician to accurately assess your situation.

Types of surgical treatment for a degenerative disc disease

There are two main types of surgical treatment to help treat a degenerative disc disease: traditional open back surgery and minimally invasive surgery.

Traditional open back surgery is performed in a hospital setting and, due to the highly invasive nature of the procedure, requires two or three days of postoperative hospitalization for monitored recovery. The procedure begins with a large incision of 4 – 6 inches 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 either remove a portion of the diseased disc or the entire diseased disc to free the impacted nerve that is causing your 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 not succeeding 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 low risk surgery option with a 96 patient satisfaction score^. 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 world-class surgery centers across the country. Because of the minimally invasive nature of our procedures, patients are able to return home the same day their surgery was performed. Both types of surgery begin with a small incision in the back. Through this small incision, the surgeon will access the spine without disrupting the surrounding muscles and soft tissues.

During a minimally invasive decompression surgery, the surgeon will remove only a portion of the diseased disc in order 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. He will then insert an implant into the empty disc space to stabilize the spine.

If you would like to learn more about a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery, please contact our Care Team today. We are here to help you find the best treatment option for your needs so you can get back to living an active lifestyle.