The majority of the people who are diagnosed with a herniated disc are not in need of surgery. Only about 10% of people diagnosed with a herniated disc will need to seek surgical options to relieve their pain. The purpose for herniated disc surgery is to decrease the pain and allow the patient to move and function as normally as possible.
A doctor will consider the following before he/she makes a decision to operate:
- Is there still continual leg pain that has not improved over a four week period of nonsurgical treatment?
- Do the results of the physical examination currently show there is weakness, loss of motion, or abnormal sensitivity?
- Does the diagnostic testing from an MRI, CT or Myelogram show that there is a herniated disc that can be treated surgically?
Other factors that will be taken into consideration before a decision for surgery is made:
- Overall health
- Severity of symptoms
- The impact symptoms have on patient’s life
Traditional Open Back Surgery (Traumatic)
Traditional open back surgery is an option that is slowly becoming less and less used as technology is becoming more advanced. However, while there are other options for surgery, they may not be as effective for a patient’s needs. For example, the option of disc surgery is not performed if the only symptom of the herniated disc is low back pain.
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Disadvantages of Traditional Open Back Surgery (Traumatic)
- High risks
- Long and painful recovery time
Non-Traumatic Herniated Disc Surgery
The non-traumatic approach to remove herniated disc material is generally an outpatient surgical procedure that only requires a local anesthesia. A small specially designed probe is inserted between the vertebrae and into the herniated disc space through the skin. An x-ray fluoroscopy and a magnified video are used for guidance.
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Traumatic Verses Non-Traumatic Discectomy
It is obvious that the non-traumatic discectomy is what is best for the patient. There is less recovery time in a non-traumatic surgery because the incision is not as invasive. There are no stitches needed. After the probe is taken out, a band-aid will be placed over the incision.
In a non-traumatic discectomy, there is no bone removal or back muscle dissection. The risk of complications is reduced dramatically. There is less of a chance for scarring, blood loss, infection, and anesthesia related risks in a non-traumatic discectomy than in a traumatic discectomy.
Types of Non-Traumatic Discectomy
There are a variety of different non-traumatic herniated disc surgeries. Many different doctors will offer different types of non-traumatic herniated disc surgeries. They are considered non-traumatic as they do not require hospitalization and they are minimally invasive and have fewer risks than open discectomy. There is the laser spine surgery and the Lumbar Endoscopic Discectomy, as well as the very common Percutaneous Endoscopic Discectomy.
It is recommended that a person research all options. However, the non-traumatic has proven to be the best route to take. Technology advances have made it possible for patients to endure herniated disc surgery without severe pain. Check into all the options before making a decision.