Herniated Disc Minimally Invasive Surgery in New York City

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.)

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