Years ago, fixing a herniated disc might have required a lengthy hospital stay and a heavy dose of pain. But modern surgical techniques, like selective endoscopic discectomy, make fixing herniated discs a less complicated affair.
Once a spine specialist identifies that a spinal disc is herniated, protruded, extruded or degenerated, discectomy is a reliable solution. Discectomy means that part of the disc is removed, to relieve pressure on surrounding nerves, which is what causes back pain.
With selective endoscopic discectomy, the spine specialist will make a small incision in the back of the patient, who will be lying on his stomach. The surgeon will insert an endoscope into that incision. On the endoscope might be a light and a camera to help guide the surgeon. The endoscope can be hollow, allowing thin surgical instruments to be inserted to remove portions of the disc that need removing.
Modern herniated disc surgery gives the doctor a clear window into what is going on at all times during the procedure, and allows him to examine the work that has been done, to ensure success. This helps decrease the risk of complication, and provides better results for patients.
Part of this endoscopic procedure involves a laser probe, which serves to further shrink the spinal disc. The laser is also used to repair the defect in the disc wall, which is the cause of a herniated disc.
The procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes, and the patient is able to quickly resume normal activities. The pain relief is often immediate. The quick recovery is due to the nature of the procedure: it doesn’t require cutting muscles, it leaves bones alone, and doesn’t interfere with the stability of the spine. The only wound patients receive is from the insertion of instruments.
A daily exercise program is recommended after the surgery. Normal activities can usually be restarted in one to six weeks, but at the doctor’s discretion. Little if any pain medication is needed.
About nine out of ten people who get this procedure experience pain relief. For that remaining 10 percent, more invasive surgery may be required. But for the 90 percent, they have received relief without the price of complicated surgery and lengthy recovery time.