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Discectomies and Laminectomies

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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.

Lumbar discectomy
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.

Cervical discectomy
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.