Discectomy and Microdiscectomy

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
In surgeryThe trend in spine surgery has moved toward minimally invasive procedures. More than 20 years ago a similar trend started with knee surgery. At that time if a patient had torn knee cartilage the surgical procedure required opening the knee. It took several weeks or months for the patient to recover. Now many knee surgeries are performed through small keyhole incisions using an arthroscopic tube. Similar advances continue to be made in spinal procedures. Devices are now available that use microscopic fiber optics that transmit anatomical images to a monitor similar to a television. The equipment is made with built-in magnification that enables the surgeon to view tiny structures through a portal. 

Open Surgery versus Minimally Invasive
Spine surgical procedures are often referred to as an open procedure or minimally invasive. Open procedures require larger incisions, muscle stripping, more anesthesia, operating time, hospitalization and, the patient usually needs more time to recuperate. Minimally invasive surgical techniques utilize portals or tiny incisions made in the skin (percutaneous) through which small, specialized instruments are inserted. For example, an endoscope allows the surgeon to see an illuminated and magnified view of the operating field through a tiny incision.

Today many different types of spine surgery can be performed utilizing minimally invasive techniques. Some types of minimally invasive spine surgery use laser technology. Lasers may be used to separate or eliminate tissue. New instruments for use in minimally invasive spine surgery have been developed and continue to be refined.

Discectomy and Microdiscectomy are terms that mean the surgical removal of part or an entire intervertebral disc. The difference between these terms is that microdiscectomy uses microscopic magnification. These procedures are performed to remove a herniated or ruptured disc. The advantage to microdiscectomy is that the procedure is minimally invasive. The incision and instruments are small, which enables the patient to recover quickly.

This article is an excerpt from the book Save Your Aching Back and Neck: A Patient’s Guide, edited by Dr. Stewart Eidelson.

Updated on: 03/22/16
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