A lumbar discectomy is a procedure to remove all or part of an abnormal intervertebral disc that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord and causes pain, weakness, or numbness. Unlike an open lumbar discectomy, a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy is performed through a very small skin incision and does not remove any bone or muscle.
Intervertebral discs are round cushions that sit between the bones of the spine (vertebrae). They act like shock absorbers and allow the body to bend and move without the vertebrae rubbing together. When one of the discs ruptures (herniates) and pushes out from between the vertebrae, or the soft gel inside the disc protrudes (bulges), the disc material can press on nearby nerves causing pain.
In addition to pain, a patient can experience tingling or weakness in a leg, arm, or elsewhere in the body, depending on which nerve the disc presses upon. However, if the disc does not press against a nerve, there is typically no pain.
What is a Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy?
During a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy, a portion of the damaged disc is removed to help ease the pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve.
The procedure does not remove any bone or muscle tissue. Instead, the focus is on removing the disc material that is causing the problem. To do this, the physician inserts a small tube through the skin of the lower back, between the vertebrae and into the space with the herniated disc. The doctor then inserts tiny tools through the tube, including a camera and light, to remove the damaged disc. Sometimes, a laser is also used to remove part of the disc.
Benefits of a minimally invasive discectomy include:
- A short recovery time.
- No muscle damage during the procedure.
- Reduced back and leg pain.
- Less blood loss.
- Less postoperative pain.
- A quicker return to work and normal activities.
A lumbar discectomy cannot be used to treat all cases of back pain. And not everyone with a herniated disc needs a lumbar discectomy. A minimally invasive discectomy is usually advised only if other treatments have failed and there are severe symptoms. Other treatments often recommended before a discectomy include physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medicines.
How Does a Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy (Microdiscectomy) Work?
A minimally invasive discectomy (sometimes called a microdiscectomy) takes about an hour, and relies on modern laparoscopic tools to provide substantially better results with fewer complications than older-style open surgery.
After making a small incision in the lower back, the doctor inserts a small tube into the intervertebral space with aid from a special type of X-ray for guidance to the correct location. Special small tools, including a camera and light, are inserted through the tube. The doctor then removes the herniated portion of the disc. Following the procedure, the tools and tube are removed, and a small bandage is placed over the wound.
The procedure is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient goes home the same day. For most patients, pain reduction is noticed as soon as the procedure is complete.
Recovery Following a Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy
Recovery from any minimally invasive procedure is usually very short in comparison to open surgery. Most patients can go home the same day of the treatment. Patients may return to light work duties as early as 1-2 weeks after a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy.
Patients are cautioned to limit lifting or bending, and they may need to wear a back brace for a short time. Sometimes, physical therapy is recommended to help strengthen the back. Occasionally, the procedure causes a slight increase in pain that may require pain medication. However, the pain usually goes away quickly.
Is This the Right Treatment for You?
If you are experiencing pain in the legs due to a compressed nerve in the spine, this treatment option can be an excellent choice. Through a series of diagnostic methods (CT scans, x-rays, etc.), your doctor will determine if the cause of your pain and discomfort is indeed a herniated disc and then make recommendations for treatment.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Dr. Torres established Novus Spine & Pain Center in Lakeland, Florida with a goal of providing the highest quality pain management care to every patient. Whether pain is the result of an injury or from another condition, Dr. Torres offers many different treatment options.
Novus Spine & Pain Center utilizes a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies to restore normal function and allow patients to regain an active lifestyle while minimizing the need for opiates. As our patient, you are our top priority. Our goal is to help you achieve the best possible quality of life.
Our Mission Statement: To provide the best quality of life to people suffering from pain, by providing state of the art treatments, knowledge and skill, compassion, and respect for all.
For your convenience, you may schedule an appointment online, request a call back, or call our office at 863-583-4445.
Minimally Invashttp://scheduleive Lumbar Discectomy Resources
Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy (Johns Hopkins)
Minimally invasive discectomy versus microdiscectomy/ discectomy for symptomatic lumbar disc herniation (PubMed)
Minimally invasive discectomy versus microdiscectomy/open discectomy for symptomatic lumbar disc herniation (Cochrane Library)
Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy (University of Rochester Medical Center)
Updated: October 7, 2021