A minimally invasive discectomy is a procedure that involves removing a herniated spinal disc to relieve pressure on your spinal cord. A herniated disc, also called a bulging or slipped disc, occurs when the soft, gel-like center of a disc pushes through a weak spot in the surrounding wall, which impinges nerves within the spinal canal.
When an intervertebral disc becomes herniated, it may put pressure on a nerve root, leading to pain and a range of other symptoms. A discectomy can relieve this pressure and remove the disc causing pain.
How the Discectomy Procedure Works
A minimally invasive discectomy allows the surgeon to work through a small incision in the patient’s back or near their rib cage. Advanced navigation techniques allow the surgeon to remove the herniated disc and work through a smaller incision to decrease the risk of complications and speed up the patient’s recovery.
Once the procedure is completed, most patients can expect to go home the same day. With a minimally invasive discectomy, most patients can return to work within two to four weeks. However, those with more physically demanding jobs may take longer to return.
Who is a Good Candidate?
Although a discectomy is an effective treatment method, not everyone with a herniated disc is a candidate for this procedure. Your healthcare provider will likely advise less invasive options first, such as:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
You may be a candidate for a minimally invasive discectomy if you have the following:
- Diagnostic tests that reveal a herniated disc
- Weakness or numbness in your back, legs or arms
- Shooting pain in your legs or arms
- Difficulty walking
- Symptoms that have not improved with other treatments
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
To determine if this treatment is right for you, your doctor will perform a physical exam, take a detailed medical history, and order diagnostic studies. You will be an essential part of the decision-making process to ensure your treatment is ideal for your condition and lifestyle.