Herniated Disc Minimally Invasive Surgery
Although traditional open surgery may sometimes be necessary, advanced
minimally invasive surgery is often the best option for a
herniated disc. The neurosurgeons of the
Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care are internationally renowned experts in minimally invasive surgical options.
One surgical procedure to repair a herniated disc is called a microdiscectomy,
in which the herniated portion of the disc is removed to relieve pressure
on the affected nerve. Minimally invasive microdiscectomy requires only
a half-inch incision. The neurosurgeon uses x-ray guidance to insert a
circular retractor tube, then uses a microscope to remove the herniation
and release the pressure on the nerve. The neurosurgeon then removes the
retractor and closes the incision. Patients are typically discharged the
same day as the procedure or the next day, and experience either complete
or near complete relief of their pain after the recovery period.
Spinal fusion is another surgical procedure to address a herniated disc.
Spinal fusion is a way to stabilize the vertebrae to take pressure off
a nerve. An advanced, minimally invasive spinal fusion called transforaminal
lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is an alternative to more invasive methods
of spinal fusion. TLIF is performed through two very small incisions in
the back, so patients experience less pain, shorter recovery times, and
fewer surgical complications. In TLIF, a neurosurgeon inserts a kind of
a cage between two vertebra to fix them in proper position. Bone graft
material applied over the cage hardens over the next few weeks, making
the fusion permanent.
At the Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care, our
neurosurgeons specialize in minimally invasive TLIF, which usually requires
only a brief hospital stay (often not even overnight). The vast majority
of patients report complete relief of their pain. (See
Surgeons Who Treat Herniated Discs.)