What is a discectomy?
A discectomy is a minimally invasive spine surgery to remove disc material that is causing nerve pain. There are two main types of discectomies: lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) procedures.
Discectomy is surgery to remove lumbar (low back) herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root.
It's often done as microdiscectomy, which uses a special microscope to view the disc and nerves. Enlarging the view allows the surgeon to use a smaller cut (incision) and causes less damage to surrounding tissue.
A cervical discectomy is surgery to take out damaged tissue from the discs in the neck area of the spine. You might also have bone growths (spurs) pressing on the nerves. The surgery takes pressure off the nerves.
The doctor will take out tissue through a small incision in your neck. It may be on the front of your neck, or it may be along your spine on the back of your neck. If the incision is at the front of your neck, your doctor will put in a small piece of bone between the vertebrae. Small plates and screws may be used to keep the bones in place. This is called a fusion. If the incision is at the back of your neck, the extra piece of bone often isn’t needed.
What is a laminectomy?
Before disc material is removed, a small piece of bone (the lamina) from the affected vertebra may also be removed, as well as any bone spurs that may be pressing on nerves in the back. This is known as a laminectomy and is often performed along with a discectomy.
What conditions or symptoms are treated with discectomies and laminectomies?
Discectomies and laminectomies are common procedures when dealing with a ruptured or herniated disc. The bones (vertebrae) that form the spine (backbone) are cushioned by small, round, flat discs. When these discs are damaged from an injury, normal wear and tear, or disease, they may bulge abnormally or break open. This is called a herniated or slipped disc. Symptoms may include weakness, pain or tingling in your back and in your legs. By removing the disc material and/or bone from the affected area, these procedures relieve pressure on those nerves and reduce pain.
Not all herniated discs require surgery, so the SpineONE team may evaluate and treat your individual case with non-surgical methods. If a procedure is required, your surgeon will use a minimally invasive technique, reducing the effects of the surgery on the muscles and tissue surrounding the affected area, leading to less pain and a quicker recovery.
What is the recovery time after a discectomy?
Recovery time varies by patient, but your surgeon will provide a personalized plan for you to follow as you recover. In general, recovery time varies from three to six weeks. It may be longer than that until you’re able to perform all your normal activities without restrictions.