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Bulging, protruding or herniated discs can cause a lot of suffering for people with chronic back pain or radiculopathy. Muscle weakness, referred pain or sensations, such as "pins and needles" often radiate from the spinal nerve roots to either the upper or lower extremities. For instance, a herniated cervical disc that is permitting fluid from the center of the disc to push its way through the outer wall can create a bulge that could causes discomfort and dysfunction for lifetime if left untreated. Additionally, as the vertebrae naturally wear due to aging, trauma or disease, the collapsing structures can also cause a disc to press against a nerve root which can impair sensory messages along nerve pathways making it difficult for the individual to raise their arms, use their hands, walk any distance, or perform simple tasks. Bending or flexing the back near the damaged disc usually results in an increase in the symptoms and/or level of pain.
Minimally invasive microsurgery
Modern advances in microsurgery have allowed our spine surgeons to resolve many such cases. Here at Ultimed HealthCare PC, we often recommend a minimally-invasive technique for an endoscopic discectomy, a percutaneous endoscopic discectomy or a laser discectomy. With each surgical approach, doctor barely opens the skin and only a small amount of the inner tissues of a bulging disc is removed, providing our patients with much-needed relief as well as minimal discomfort and inconvenience. This less invasive discectomy first demonstrated its potential for treating disc problems more than 50 years ago, and the technique has been constantly refined and perfected to the present day.
Individuals who can achieve partial or complete relief from their symptoms through non-surgical means are not good candidates even for such a minimally invasive surgery. Despite the fact that our surgeons perform spinal surgery on a regular basis, we advise patients to exhaust more conservative treatment options first. If several months of treatments seem to have no effect or the pain grows even worse, the next logical step would be the least invasive surgery possible.
Since a percutaneous endoscopic discectomy involves the insertion of nothing more than a small endoscopic tube through which the entire procedure is performed, this typically serves as the most minimally effective procedure for qualified candidates. However, not every type of herniated disc will be a good fit for this procedure. For example, the patient's herniated disc must be contained, meaning that none of the inner fluid has breached the outer disc covering. Thus, a ruptured disc would require a different surgical technique to repair the damage.
For our less-invasive procedures, our surgeons rely on a device called an endoscope. An endoscope is an elongated, hollow tube through which the surgeon can manipulate tiny instruments as well as view their work through a microscope. Usually, the tube is around 4 mm to 13 mm in size. Smaller tubes require a specialized smaller microscope or endoscope. Once the troublesome protruding disc is located, our skilled surgeon will insert the needle directly into the disc's membrane and reduce the volume of its nucleus.
An instrument threaded through the interior of the needle is used to remove small bits of tissue from within the disc. This reduction in the disc's interior volume enables the protrusion to recede, returning the disc to its former shape. This releases the pressure from nearby nerve roots in herniated or bulging discs, and relieves spinal canal pressure in the case of central focal protrusions. The entire surgery generally takes less than 45 minutes, plus a brief recovery period and a single follow-up appointment with the doctor.
We have been using lasers in surgery for over 20 years. Laser technology can assist in disc removal by minimally invasive techniques. Because a laser is a beam of light, it can be utilized in a very small opening. This allows laser discectomy to be very minimally invasive. With the proper diagnosis of a soft herniated disc compressing your nerve, the laser can effectively shrink and aid in the removal of the portion of the disc that has herniated. In the hands of an experienced spine surgeon, a laser discectomy is a safe and effective method for repairing a damaged disc.
The greatest advantage of the "percutaneous approach" over "traditional open" spinal surgery is the lack of collateral damage to muscles, nerves and skin tissue. This technique allows for faster easier healing and also helps to prevent infection, numbness and other unwanted after-effects. Patients are often astonished by the immediate relief they feel from this outpatient procedure.
At Ultimed HealthCare PC, we are capable of performing this procedure as an outpatient surgery. Our Doctors has been doing so for over 25 years. With an accurate diagnosis of the right patient problems, our surgeons have an extremely high success rate when this technique is utilized.
Relief from debilitating chronic pain
Once you have had an endoscopic discectomy, percutaneous discectomy or laser discectomy, you will need to refrain from violent flexing or heavy lifting for several weeks, but most people can resume everyday light activities and more sedentary work after just one to two weeks of rest. Any slight discomfort that might be felt from the procedure is drastically outweighed by the immense relief from debilitating chronic pain.
If you have tried other healing techniques and feel that the time has come to consider some form of spinal surgery, we encourage you to contact Ultimed HealthCare PC at 732.972.1267 or submit one of our convenient online forms for a prompt response. A detailed examination and FREE MRI EVALUATION will help our spine specialist determine whether your bulging, herniated or protruding disc would benefit from percutaneous endoscopic discectomy.