Discectomy, also spelled discectomy, is the surgical removal of all or a part of an intervertebral disc which may be herniated, or “ruptured,” and pressing on the spinal cord or on a nerve root. If the incision is 1 inch or larger, the procedure is typically called an open discectomy. When the incision is less than about 1 inch, the procedure is performed as a minimally invasive endoscopic discectomy using real-time x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy) to place a small metal tube into the space around the herniated disc. The endoscope and surgical tools are passed through this tube so that the designated disc or portion of the disc can be removed.
When the incision is less than about 1 inch, the procedure is performed as a minimally invasive endoscopic discectomy using real-time x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy) to place a small metal tube into the space around the herniated disc. The endoscope and surgical tools are passed through this tube so that the designated disc or portion of the disc can be removed.
Endoscopic discectomy is the least invasive and most effective technique for surgical treatment of herniated spinal discs.
The procedure serves to reduce pain and restore function. Endoscopic discectomy does not require removal of bones or muscles and offers you numerous benefits:
- Reduced pain of herniated discs
- Restored back function
- Reduced operative time
- Reduced blood loss
- Less damage to muscles
- Less postoperative pain and need for pain medication
- Often can be performed on an outpatient basis
- Quicker return to work and activities
- Probable cost savings
Microdiscectomy is also a minimally invasive procedure to treat herniated discs. However, it involves a slightly larger incision (around 1 inch), and rather than using endoscopy, the surgeon visualizes the spine via a specialized microscope. In addition to removing the damaged disc material, microdiscectomy may also involve removal of small portions of bone and tissue.
Laser spine surgery can be confused with minimally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive surgery involves a small incision and an endoscope or microscope with traditional surgical techniques rather than lasers. Patients often assume that the majority of a spinal procedure can be done with a laser, but in fact, lasers only play a small role in the procedure. A laser beam operates in a straight line and can be used in place of a scalpel to make incisions as well as to remove layers of soft tissue, and sometimes disc material when it can be easily accessed. When disc material or other soft tissues are located in confined spaces, or if it’s necessary to remove bone and ligaments, other operating instruments are required. Often, laser spine surgery is presented as the most up-to-date, top-of-the-line surgery available, but while lasers can be effective for some procedures, they aren’t required to produce successful results. There are more modern and effective minimally invasive spine surgery techniques that offer clear benefits and use traditional instruments rather than a laser.