Microdiscectomy

Overview

A minimally invasive microdiscectomy is a procedure to remove herniated disc material that presses on nerves or the spinal cord causing pain and weakness in the patient. Many ruptured discs may be resolved on their own, non-surgically, so that microdiscectomy is not necessary.

About the Microdiscectomy Procedure

During the surgery, a fluoroscope is used to project live x-ray pictures onto a monitor giving the surgeon a clearer view of the area being treated. The spine surgeon typically performs most of the surgery to repair the ruptured disc while watching it on the monitor.

The spine surgeon will wear safety glasses with a microscope attached to each eye to increase their vision of the small area being operated on.

About a one inch incision is made over the injured disc on the patient’s back. Small wires are slowly inserted into the incision site to help split the muscle in the spine and allows for a small opening for the spine surgeon to work within.  The wires help spread the muscles instead of cutting it and causing unnecessary damage. A specially fitted retractor is used to hold the muscles to the side and out of the way during the operation. A very tiny amount of bone (lamina) is removed to allow for more space between the two vertebrae, in which no instability results from this. Then the nerve is retracted towards the middle of the spine. This procedure helps remove pressure on the pinched nerve.

In most cases microdiscectomy is performed as an outpatient procedure or 23 hour stay. Most patients are able to return to work in one to two weeks following a microdiscectomy.

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Scott B. Phillips, MD is a neurological surgeon based in San Antonio who specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, artificial disc replacement, carpal tunnel surgery, spinal cord stimulator implants and other brain disorders, including brain tumor and chiari decompression. Patients travel from Bexar County, San Marcos and South Texas, including Corpus Christi, Kingsville, McAllen and Brownsville for treatment of back pain, neck pain, brain tumor, carpal tunnel and epilepsy-related neurological problems. Dr. Scott Phillips provides second opinions for back surgery and neck surgery, and emphasizes non-surgical treatment options in advance of spine surgery. Where surgery is necessary because of a herniated disc or spinal instability, Dr. Phillips uses minimally invasive spine surgery techniques and advanced technology like the artificial disc to help patients relieve pain symptoms and get back to activity. This spine neurosurgeon expertise enables many patients to have outpatient spine surgery and be home the same day.