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Discectomy for Pain Relief

A discectomy is a surgical procedure that removes herniated disc material in order to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. By having this pressure eliminated, a patient should experience a reduction or complete alleviation of back pain or pain in the extremities. A lumbar discectomy is a common procedure, with it being estimated that Medicare spends in excess of 300 million dollars on lumbar discectomies every year.

A discectomy can be accomplished through a traditional open procedure, though in some cases a minimally invasive approach called a microdiscectomy. Some discectomies also have a laminectomy component in which a portion of the lamina, or the back of the vertebrae, is removed to provide the surgeon with better access to the herniated disc.

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Discectomy Procedure Specifics

In a traditional open discectomy, the surgeon will typically make an incision just over one inch in length in the patient’s back. The surgeon will then move the muscles away from the spine in order to better see the spine. If a laminectomy is being performed, the surgeon will remove part of the lamina at this stage. If a laminectomy is not being performed, the surgeon will proceed to the herniated disc removal stage.

Post Procedure

After the procedure is complete a patient may experience immediate relief of leg pain, though he or she will typically experience some pain around the incision. Patients usually spend one night in the hospital, and may or may not be provided with a brace upon discharge.

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