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What Is Discectomy Spine Surgery?

Discectomy is a surgical spine procedure performed to remove herniated disc material. The loose material presses on your spinal cord or a sensitive nerve root, causing pain and other severe symptoms. If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, one of the problems your back doctor tests for is a herniated disc. A discectomy surgery alleviates a wide range of symptoms, such as radiculopathy or sciatica. After surgery, you get relief from your symptoms, including pain, numbness or weakness.

If your spine specialist has tried conservative, non-surgical treatments without success, discectomy surgery becomes an option. The spine specialists at Premier Brain & Spine, a state-of-the-art spine and pain center in New Jersey, rely on discectomy as one treatment for a herniated disc. These spine specialists perform complex spinal procedures, including lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine surgery to treat a wide range of spine conditions.

Is Discectomy the Same as Microdiscectomy?

Discectomy and microdiscectomy are both spinal surgeries to remove herniated disc materials. A discectomy is an open surgery most often performed on the lower back. For cervical, thoracic, or lumbar microdiscectomy surgery, your doctor uses specialized imaging equipment to improve the success rate. Differences between discectomy and microdiscectomy include:

  • Open procedure. Discectomy is an open procedure, during which your spine surgeon makes an incision to expose the affected nerve roots and the intervertebral disc. Your doctor sees the herniated disc directly.
  • Guided vision procedure. In a cervical, thoracic, or lumbar microdiscectomy surgery, your doctor makes smaller incisions, relying on a magnifying endoscope to view the herniated disc better.
  • Incision size. For a discectomy, the incision is larger. Your surgeon works through the back muscles and cuts part of the lamina. Microdiscectomy and laser microdiscectomy require a smaller incision because your doctor uses visual aids.

At the NJ spine care center nearest to you, your doctor has access to the latest spinal surgery technology to perform successful microdiscectomy decompression. Advanced microdiscectomy surgery requires specialized skills and equipment that are available at all ten locations of Premier Brain & Spine.

Am I Candidate for Discectomy or Microdiscectomy?

If you have a herniated disc, a discectomy or microdiscectomy significantly improves your quality of life by eliminating your pain and restoring flexibility. Signs that this procedure is right for you include:

  • You’ve tried other, more conservative treatments, including physical therapy, heat and ice compression, medication and manual manipulation without success.
  • You’re suffering from debilitating pain that radiates to your extremities. Millions of Americans suffer back pain and don’t get the right treatment. If you have persistent back pain, get an accurate diagnosis to determine if microdiscectomy decompression is right for you.
  • You feel the effects of nerve compression and irritation. Symptoms of spinal nerve damage include numbness and weakness in your legs and arms, loss of bowel or bladder control, trouble standing or walking, and tingling in your back and buttocks.

If you have any of these symptoms, the doctors at the NJ spine center carry out diagnostic tests and review your medical history, including previous back treatments. If you have a herniated disc diagnosis, the best spinal doctors may opt for an advanced microdiscectomy procedure to address your symptoms and the source of your pain.

Why Should I Choose Microdiscectomy Surgery?

Microdiscectomy surgery is an advanced spine surgery that offers multiple benefits over the open discectomy procedure, including:

  • Less pain. This is a minimally invasive procedure, with minimal trauma to your sensitive back muscles. You experience reduced pain during your recovery and afterward, you no longer need pain medications.
  • Faster recovery. Another reason your doctor chooses lumbar or cervical microdiscectomy is to encourage a faster recovery. With minimal damage to your tissues during surgery, you enjoy reduced downtime.
  • Reduced risks. Microdiscectomy spinal surgery involves less risk of tissue damage and blood loss. The risk of complications, such as a post-operative infection and a nerve root injury, is also lower.

After a diagnosis for a herniated or ruptured disc, your doctor chooses the best treatment option for your condition. If conservative treatments don’t work, a discectomy or microdiscectomy is one of the most common alternatives.

What Should I Expect from a Discectomy or Microdiscectomy?

Your doctor tailors the discectomy or microdiscectomy to address your diagnosis. The main steps in the procedure include:

  1. Diagnosis. The best spinal doctors in NY and NJ carry out advanced imaging tests — such as x-rays, a CAT scan, MRI or DEXA — for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor explains your diagnosis, the chosen procedure and what to expect during your recovery. Tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking and other treatments you’ve tried before.
  2. Preparation. Before surgery, your doctor may perform a chest x-ray, a blood test or an electrocardiogram. If you smoke, the doctor asks you to quit weeks before and after the surgery. You may have to stop taking some medications, including blood thinners and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  3. Before surgery. Don’t eat or drink after midnight on the day before the surgery. Use antibacterial soap, wear loose fitting clothes and avoid accessories and jewelry.
  4. The discectomy procedure. The surgery staff administers general anesthesia so you sleep during the procedure. Your doctor chooses the most appropriate procedure for you, from a variety that includes:
    • Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF surgery)
    • Minimally invasive discectomy, the microdiscectomy procedure
    • Cervical microdiscectomy
    • Thoracic discectomy
    • Lumbar microdiscectomy surgery
    • Lateral discectomy
    • Laser microdiscectomy
    • Microdiscectomy decompression procedure
  5. For an open discectomy, your doctor makes an incision over the affected vertebrae. In a minimally invasive microdiscectomy, your doctor makes a much smaller incision and uses a magnifying endoscope and tiny tools to remove the compression.
  6. Complementary procedures. Sometimes, a laminectomy, a lumbar foraminotomy or a spinal fusion is performed concurrently to help ease nerve compression. After the decompression surgery, your doctor closes the incision.
  7. Post-surgery. After surgery, the medical team monitors you in a recovery room. You may get to go home to recuperate that day, but some have a short hospital stay. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities that require your back muscles. In two to six weeks, you can return to work with reduced back pain.

If your spine surgeon opts for an anterior access to your spine, the incision is in your abdomen. The chosen procedure depends on where your pain originates. A discectomy or microdiscectomy resolves your painful symptoms. Contact the spine specialists at the closest Premier Brain & Spine location in New York or New Jersey to find out if you can benefit from a discectomy.

Updated on Jul 27, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

Premier Brain & Spine
10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 258-0190