Minimally Invasive Microlumbar Discectomy

herniated lumbar disc may be referred to as a “ruptured” or “slipped” disc in layman’s terms.  However, these layman’s terms, strictly speaking, are not accurate terminology. A herniated disc occurs when the inner core (nucleus pulposus) of the intervertebral disc bulges out through the tough outer layer of ligaments that surround the disc (annulus fibrosis). Back pain or leg pain can arise from this tear in the annulus fibrosis. If the protruding disc presses on a nerve, pain, numbness, or weakness may occur in the leg.  This is often referred to as sciatica.  MRI is required to make the diagnosis of herniated lumbar disc.  If back surgery is required, minimally invasive microlumbar discectomy may be a good option.

Minimally Invasive Microlumbar Discectomy Surgery

During a minimally invasive microlumbar discectomy surgery patients are positioned face-down on the OR table.  The location of the incision is often confirmed by an intraoperative X-ray, using fluoroscopy.  A skin incision about 1 inch in length is made to the side of the herniated disc.  Like other minimally invasive lumbar spine surgery, this technique involves the use of tubular retractors.  Sequential dilators are applied to the back.  The muscles of the back are split to the spinal lamina, the back part of the spine.  Splitting the muscles often results in less back pain and a faster recovery than stripping the muscles off the spine as is often required in open back surgery.  Using a microscope, overlying soft tissue is removed and the bone exposed.  Use of a microscope improves surgical lighting and vision, making the herniated lumbar disc surgery more precise and accurate.  Specially designed surgical instruments are then used to remove bone spurs and the lamina on the side of the approach.  This is referred to as a laminectomy.  The disc is then exposed by gently retracting the nerves.  The fragments of herniated disc are then dissected free and carefully removed.  After bleeding is stopped, the wound is closed with resorbable sutures.  These sutures usually dissolve on their own in the body and do not need to be removed. 

Herniated Lumbar Disc Surgery Recovery

Patients undergoing minimally invasive microlumbar discectomy surgery to treat herniated lumbar discs may often be able to go home the same day they have surgery, as the procedure is often done on an outpatient basis.  Patients typically begin walking immediately after surgery.  Patients should not engage in too much physical activity for the first 2-3 days after back surgery to prevent muscle spasms.  Many people take little to no pain medication by their two week post-op visit.  Patients often return to sedentary work within two weeks after the operation.

Schedule Your Herniated Lumbar Disc Consultation

Not all patients and not all conditions can be treated via a minimally invasive approach. Dr. Bindal, Dr. Wang, and Dr. Park, neurosurgeons in Houston, will discuss your condition with you at the time of your consultation and inform you if surgery is appropriate at all. If surgery is appropriate, the doctor will discuss whether a minimally invasive microlumbar discectomy may be an option. If you’re suffering from a herniated lumbar disc than schedule a consultation today to meet with one of our neurosurgeons - (281) 313-0031.