Surgical Treatment of Herniated Disc

Disc herniation is a complication seen following traumatic accidents related to the spine and it is most likely to occur in the lumbar discs than in other sites. The condition will make a cartilages disc between the vertebral bodies to dislocate or the content within the disc to bulge outside its capsule. This displacement or herniation will cause compression effects over the spine or else on the adjacent nerve roots which can give rise to many symptoms at varying level of intensity.

What are the treatment options available for herniated disc?

Although the condition will most often give rise to a mild pain which may not hinder the activities of daily living to that extent, there may be instances where one would be seriously debilitated due to severe pain and other neurological manifestations.

As a general rule, the clinicians will want to treat disc herniation conservatively for at least 6 weeks before considering the possibility of undertaking surgical treatment and during this time most of the disc herniation could become symptomless and functionally improved. But, in case the symptoms does not improve after 6 – 12 weeks of treatment, they would seriously consider surgical options depending on the patient status such as the expected mobility level, age and the presence of other problems related to spine and systemic health.

What are the indications for surgical treatment of herniated disc?

Although clinicians will like to wait for several weeks before deciding on surgical treatments, manifestations such as severe pain, severe functional deprivation as well as progressive neurological manifestations will all strongly indicate a surgical intervention which will most often relieve the symptoms to a large extent.

What are the types of surgical interventions used for this condition?

For many years, open surgery is the procedure of choice to treat patients with herniated discs and this involves direct visualizing of the herniated disc through a skin incision and removing the bulging part which will cause compression effects over the spine and the nerve roots. This procedure is given the name discectomy and because it is performed under direct vision it is known as ‘open discectomy’.

The same procedure can be performed using a microscopic view and a smaller incision which will therefore known as a ‘microscopic discectomy’.

Another mode of treatment involves using endoscopic techniques which will make use of a smaller incision, a camera to view the site as well as x-ray techniques to locate the bulge and therefore is known as endoscopic microdiscectomy. The procedure will have a lesser recovery period and almost the same amount of success as other treatment modalities.