MINIMALLY INVASIVE TREATMENT
Minimally Invasive Treatment for Herniated Discs
The Microsurgery Spine and Pain Institute in Plano, Texas offers Percutaneous Discectomy as a minimally invasive treatment for herniated discs. Call us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Herniated discs are one of the most common causes of neck and back pain. While they can be acute, herniated discs are most commonly chronic, and they can have a severely negative effect on quality of life, making it painful for one to move for even the simplest of tasks. A percutaneous discectomy is a surgery that treats herniated discs with a minimally invasive, outpatient surgery.
THE SPECIFICS OF HERNIATED DISCS
The Makeup of the Spine
The human spine is composed of a series of discs (similar to cushions) stacked between vertebrae (individual bones). The discs are similar to cushions in that they minimize the impact of the spinal column. A sturdier exterior surrounds the soft, “cushion-y” part of the disc.
The Herniation and the Pain
On occasion the softer interior can push through a crack in the tougher exterior. This is how herniated discs occur. The herniation can irritate the adjacent nerves, resulting in pain that can be felt not only in the back, but also in an arm or leg.
Not everyone experiences pain in the name of a herniated disc, but for those who do, the pain can become chronic, decreasing one’s quality of life. If pain persists for more than four weeks, medical professionals will probably explore tests to see if the pain can be treated surgically.
What is Percutaneous Discectomy?
Percutaneous means “in or through the skin.” While there are multiple variations of the therapy, all use small tools to decompress the spinal discs and release the pressure that is exerted on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
How Does Percutaneous Discectomy Work?
The spine of the human body is made up of 24 vertebrae, which stack on top of one another. The spinal cord and nerves run throughout the entire spine, sending messages to the brain and muscles. In between each vertebrae remains a jelly-filled disc with a tough outer core; the discs give flexibility to the spine and absorb shock when the body runs or jumps. Sometimes, when one injures his or her back or becomes older, the jelly-like substance pushes against the tough outer layer of the disc, sometimes breaking through and spilling onto the bones and nerves. Ruptured discs are called herniated discs. Though pain may not directly lie at the herniated disc, pain may occur in one’s legs. Back pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the feet or loss of bladder or bowel control may result as well.
Patients who have a herniated disc often undergo percutaneous discectomy, a procedure that removes or reduces the amount of tissue in the nucleus of the herniated disc to relieve pain and inflammation. After taking a sedative, the patient lies in a prone position while the physician administers local anesthetic around the herniated disc. The physician inserts a needle into the herniated disc to remove the excess material, releasing the pressure and ridding the pain. Though patients will feel pressure during the removal of the excess material, the procedure is not supposed to be painful. While the removal of the tissue only takes a few minutes, the entire procedure lasts about 30 minutes. Patients can go home on the same day, yet the area of injection may be sensitive for 24 to 48 hours.
Patients with Herniated Discs
A percutaneous discectomy, in any of its varieties, may not be right for every patient who experiences issues with herniated discs. Patients with the following issues may be assessed for this type of treatment:
- Sciatica or radiculopathy (pain, numbness, or weakness in the leg that starts in the lower back but travels throughout the leg)
- Pure axial pain (musculoskeletal neck pain) caused by a certain type of herniation
- Small contained herniated discs
- Large contained herniated discs that have not ruptured, for which open surgery is not an appropriate option
Percutaneous Discectomy Procedure
All of the procedures are minimally invasive and utilize small medical tools to diminish the pressure placed on spinal nerves.
The patient is sedated into a relaxed but still awake state, and a local anesthetic is applied to the proper area of the back to induce numbness. Once the area is numbed, one of the variations of the procedure is carried out. The three most popular are described below:
- Invasive Removal: The area of the disc that is damaged is removed; in some cases, the whole disc may be removed if additional health problems will not arise as a result
- Laser Removal: A laser breaks up the disc and a part of the whole is removed
- Partial Suction: Suction is used to remove the internal fluid, which can diminish pain and reduce inflammation pressure
The patient may feel some pressure, but very little pain should be expected.
The procedure is outpatient, and prescription medications will most likely be prescribed for help with recovery. For several weeks, strenuous physical activity should be avoided, as should sedentary activities. Bending, twisting, and lifting are among the activities that may cause too much strain and should be approached with great caution in the weeks following the surgery.
A percutaneous discectomy has several benefits for the treatment of herniated discs:
- Lower risk than open surgery
- Decrease in pain
- Increased mobility and quality of life
- Minimally invasive
- Less scarring and fibrosis
The procedure is beneficial in that it is less invasive than surgery, which is more likely to leave scarring or fibrosis. Other benefits include the increased ability to move around and, of course, pain relief. Percutaneous discectomy remains minimal and safe with a significantly high success rate. Several risks accompany a percutaneous discectomy, including mild pain at the site of injection after the needle has been inserted. Also, some patients can suffer from compression of the spinal cord, infection, bleeding or hematoma. However, the benefits of a percutaneous discectomy outweigh the possible risks. Dr. Gabriel Rodriguez and the team at the Microsurgery Spine and Pain Institute are well-trained in the performance of percutaneous discectomies and are ready to serve the communities of Dallas, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen and Carrollton.
Of course, with all medical procedures comes the possibility of a negative outcome. Risks associated with a percutaneous discectomy include the following:
- Mild pain at the injection site post procedure
- No guarantee of a successful procedure that will eliminate the pain
- Spinal cord compression
- Intracranial pressure, bleeding, hematoma or infection
Contact the Microsurgery Spine and Pain Institute for Percutaneous Discectomy
As with all medical procedures, pain should be discussed and explored with a health professional in depth before any course of action is decided. Contact the Microsurgery Spine & Pain Institute today to schedule a consultation.