Microdiscectomy Overview

Microdiscectomy: Overview, Advantages, & Eligibility Criteria

Suffering from a bulging or herniated disc is common, especially among middle-aged and senior adults. These damaged discs can press on adjacent nerves, causing debilitating pain or other distressing symptoms. A minimally disruptive microdiscectomy is a state-of-the-art procedure that successfully eliminates these symptoms with minimal postoperative pain.

During a microdiscectomy, your surgeon will make an incision that is just under 2 inches on your back just above the affected disc. Using specialized equipment including a high-resolution surgical microscope, your surgeon will gain access to the affected vertebrae. These special tools allow your surgeon to access the spine with the least amount of damage to surrounding tissues. Instead of cutting through the strong muscles and ligaments of your back, your surgeon will gently slide these tissues off of the spine. Subsequently, retractors will hold these structures in place for the duration of the procedure.

Once your surgeon reaches the affected vertebra, he or she will remove a portion of the lamina. Removing this bony covering on the backside of the vertebrae provides your surgeon with better access to the affected disc. Your surgeon may also deem it necessary to remove a portion of the facet joint or foramina. Widening these passageways can relieve any nerve pressure that has built up as a result of constrictions in these structures. (Removing the lamina is known as a laminectomy; widening the foramina is called a foraminotomy.)

Your surgeon will then remove the bulging or herniated portion of the damaged disc. Through the use of small instruments under the microscope, your surgeon can leave a majority of the undamaged anatomy intact. The muscles will then be returned to their original locations and the incision will be closed using tape and glue.

Advantages of a Microdiscectomy

Advances in minimally disruptive and microscopic techniques have led to more successful procedures with longer-lasting results. Whereas traditional discectomies required large incisions, widespread damage to surrounding muscles and supportive tissues, and long, painful recoveries, the benefits of a microdiscectomy are clear:

  1. Smaller incisions allow for less blood loss, external scarring, and smaller risks for infection
  2. Microscopic tools allow for less disruption of internal tissues
  3. Less internal scarring reduces the risk of suffering a pinched nerve during the healing process
  4. Many patients return home within several hours of this same-day procedure
  5. This procedure boasts quicker recovery times with many patients up and walking after surgery

Joel D. Siegal, M.D. at the Key Clinics has years of training and expertise in performing the most up-to-date and specialized surgical procedures. Adept at the technique of the minimally disruptive microdiscectomy, he will work closely with you to develop a personalized recovery plan that resolves your disc pain.

Eligibility Requirements for a Microdiscectomy

If you are experiencing localized nerve pain, radiculopathy, or radiating pain that travels down the arms or legs, or if your nerve pain is accompanied by sensations of tingling, heat, or pins-and-needles prickling, then a microdiscectomy may be an effective treatment to address your degenerated disc. Your doctor may prescribe a CT or MRI scan to confirm that a damaged intervertebral disc is causing your pain. From there, depending upon the severity of your situation, your doctor will prescribe a course of conservative therapy before recommending surgical interventions, such as a microdiscectomy.

Few conditions that may disqualify an individual from receiving a microdiscectomy.  If you have severe instability in your vertebrae, infection near the proposed surgical site, or another serious medical condition, then a microdiscectomy might not be the best treatment for you. Working with a qualified physician to assess your condition is the only way to know for certain if your medical needs meet the criteria for surgery. Call us or schedule an appointment online today.