What Is Microdiscectomy? An Essential Guide

Nov 24, 2021

What Is Microdiscectomy? An Essential Guide

Back pain can have a devastating impact on your life and ability to do basic activities or enjoy time with loved ones. If you have fully exhausted conservative therapies after weeks or months without improving your pain and other symptoms,...

Back pain can have a devastating impact on your life and ability to do basic activities or enjoy time with loved ones. If you have fully exhausted conservative therapies after weeks or months without improving your pain and other symptoms, you may start to consider surgery. At Spine Center Atlanta, we understand that many patients are hesitant at the prospect of surgery due to the risks and difficulties they may associate with traditional open spine surgery. 

That is why our highly experienced team is committed to surgical technology and techniques that allow for a less invasive procedure and a small incision. One type of procedure that our board-certified surgeons use to treat back pain related to a damaged intervertebral disc is called microdiscectomy

To help you learn more about this procedure and how it can help treat back pain on a long-term basis, we’re happy to share the following guide. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our treatment options, please feel free to reach out. 

Microdiscectomy Overview

A microdiscectomy is a surgical procedure that treats intervertebral disc conditions such as a herniated disc or bulging disc by carefully removing only the damaged portion of the disc. This is possible thanks to the use of a surgical microscope as well as other microsurgical technology and special techniques. By offering a magnified view and easier access to the spine, a microdiscectomy is able to use a small incision and a muscle-sparing approach to make it less invasive than open discectomy. 

In many cases, microdiscectomy can offer an outpatient procedure that allows patients to return to the comfort of home or to a hotel room instead of a hospital the night of the procedure. The goal of microdiscectomy is to shorten recovery time and risk of certain complications, such as infection. 

What Conditions Does Microdiscectomy Treat?

Microdiscectomy treats conditions affecting the intervertebral discs, particularly bulging and herniated discs. 

As we get older, our bodies begin to dry out and lose elasticity, including the discs in the spine. Normally, these discs act as a cushion for the vertebrae, allowing us to bend flex, and twist. When they dry out due to aging, they often develop small cracks and tears that cause inner disc material to push out into the spinal column. 

Herniated and bulging discs may not be painful on their own, but they can put pressure on surrounding spinal nerves, which results in localized neck or back pain, as well as radiating symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness. A microdiscectomy treats nerve compression by removing the displaced intervertebral disc material that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. 

Who Is a Candidate for Microdiscectomy?

After diagnosing a disc condition as the source of back pain, doctors will recommend a full course of conservative treatment options. This can include physical therapy, over-the-counter medications, anti-inflammatory injections, and lifestyle changes. If weeks or months of nonsurgical treatment does not bring the relief necessary for a good quality of life, surgery can become a serious consideration. 

Patients considering microdiscectomy surgery will typically undergo a full evaluation, including a review of medical history, a physical examination, and diagnostic imagery. The surgeon must be able to positively identify a herniated or bulging disc as the source of back pain before recommending microdiscectomy. In some cases, a diagnostic test, such as a nerve block, may be performed to confirm that the suspected disc is causing symptoms. 

Microdiscectomy at Spine Center Atlanta

Our renowned surgical team, including founder Dr. James L. Chappuis, has been helping patients find relief from back pain for decades at the state-of-the-art Spine Center Atlanta facilities. Our facility has received the prestigious AAAASF accreditation, representing our commitment to the highest standards of surgical care.

We also offer comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment for patients at any stage of their treatment journey for back pain. Whether you are still exploring conservative treatments such as physical therapy or injections, or you are ready to undergo a diagnostic evaluation to determine if microdiscectomy is right for you, the caring and dedicated team at Spine Center Atlanta can help. 

To learn more and schedule your initial appointment, reach out to Spine Center Atlanta today.