When patients are experiencing extreme pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in their neck or back as well as possible instances of bowel or bladder dysfunction, a discectomy may become a suitable treatment option for them. Though surgical procedures should be considered as a last resort for patients experiencing neck or back pain, at times surgery becomes a necessary option if conservative treatments, such as pain medication, low-impact exercise and physical therapy have failed to produce effective results.

When a disc is bulging or herniating, the disc material may press up against the spinal cord or nerve roots, causing the patient incredible pain and discomfort. A discectomy is a procedure that, traditionally, was conducted through a large incision between 6 to 8 inches. The surgeon would remove the necessary bone material in order to access the spine, removing most of or the entire disc causing the patient’s pain. The procedure generally requires two to five days in the hospital after surgery, as well as months of recovery postoperatively. Read on to learn more about the conditions treated by discectomy and the types of surgery offered.

Conditions treated by discectomy

Spinal discs are made up of approximately 90 percent water. During the aging process, these discs begin to lose some of its fluid or water content and shrink in size. This shrinkage is common among adults and is known as degenerative disc disease. As the discs decrease in size, the surrounding vertebrae become closer together, resulting in less space for the nerves to travel. In some people this causes nerve compression, resulting in pain in the neck or back. However, the main reason for a discectomy is found when the disc shrinks, moves out of its general locality and then presses upon the spinal cord or surrounding nerves. In a discectomy, a surgeon will remove the area of the disc causing this issue.

Minimally invasive discectomy

Though the traditional approach to a discectomy required a large incision and highly invasive approach, Austin Midtown Ambulatory Spinal Center performs a minimally invasive version of the procedure, offering patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ Austin Midtown Ambulatory Spinal Center’s discectomy surgery involves a board-certified surgeon+ removing a portion of the herniated or bulging disc that is pressing on the spinal cord or nerve root, subsequently diminishing the patient’s overall pain, without causing instability.