Minimally Invasive Microdiscectomy/Decompression
A minimally invasive lumbar microdiscectomy/decompression is utilized to remove herniated disc material and bony spurs that are causing nerve compression. A small incision less than one inch is made on the back and dilators are placed into the incision gradually separating the muscle to create a tunnel down to the bony spine. Through this tunnel, the surgeon can remove the bone and access the spinal canal. Utilizing a microscope, bony spurs and the herniated portion of the disc are removed decompressing the nerve, relieving pain and nerve dysfunction. The entire disc is not removed, only the portion compressing on the nerve. The tube is then removed and internal sutures are placed. The procedure takes approximately 1-2 hrs and patients are typically discharged the same day. Pain is usually the first symptoms to improve and weakness can improve over time. Numbness and tingling are the last symptoms to improve, if at all, depending upon the degree of nerve damage.
What Is Spinal Decompression?
Decompression refers to a surgical procedure performed to relieve pressure and alleviate pain caused by the impingement of bone and/or disc material on the spinal cord or nerves. Today, this can be done using minimally invasive spine surgery.
Why Do I Need This Procedure?
A spinal decompression is sometimes performed when an intervertebral disc ruptures or herniates in the spine and puts pressure on neural tissue, such as the spinal cord, nerves and/or nerve roots. This may cause pain and other symptoms in the neck, arms and legs, including numbness or muscle weakness. Other causes of neural impingement include spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or in some rare cases a spinal tumor.
Spinal surgeons perform a variety of procedures to achieve decompression. When determining the optimal surgical procedure, a surgeon will consider patient pathology (the structural and functional changes that led to the patient’s neurological dysfunction), the level or levels of the spine affected, the patient’s medical history and his or her surgical experience and training.
There are several types of decompression procedures, including:
How Is A Spinal Decompression Performed?
During a decompression procedure, your surgeon typically will, depending on the specific procedure:
- Make an incision over the vertebra(e) to be treated.
- Gently pull aside soft tissue – skin, fat and muscle – to expose the vertebra(e).
- Cut away all or part of the vertebral element to relieve the source of compression.
- Remove any other sources of compression; i.e., bone spurs and/or disc material (discectomy).
- Ease the soft tissues back into place and close the incision.
A decompression procedure also may be performed in conjunction with spinal fusion. This involves placing bone graft or bone graft substitute between two or more affected vertebrae to promote bone growth between the vertebral bodies. The graft material acts as a binding medium and helps to maintain normal disc height – as the body heals, the vertebral bone and bone graft eventually grow together to join the vertebrae and stabilize the spine.
Today, spinal decompression also can be performed through a minimally invasive procedure that allows your spine surgeon to dilate the muscles surrounding your spine rather than separating the muscles from the spine.
A minimally invasive spinal decompression procedure typically leaves patient with only a small scar when compared to traditional, open spinal surgery. Surgical discomfort often may be relieved with medication, and some patients undergoing a minimally invasive decompression are able to go home the day after surgery.
To determine whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive spinal decompression surgery, talk with your doctor.