Discectomy is a type of surgery performed to relieve symptoms of pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs that have not responded to more conservative treatments.
The surgery itself involves removal of a herniated disc that is pressing on the spinal canal or a nerve root. This surgery is often preceded by another procedure — either a laminectomy or a laminotomy — to remove the lamina, a small piece of bone from the vertebrae. This is done to expose the herniation.
Complete removal of the lamina is called a laminectomy. Partial removal of the lamina is called a laminotomy.
A variation of this surgery is a microdiscectomy. During this procedure a special microscope is utilized in order to view the nerves and the disc. Because the surgeon has a better view, it's possible to make a smaller incision resulting in less damage to the surrounding muscle and other soft tissues.
The goal of both a discectomy and a microdiscectomy is the same: to remove the herniated disc and any loose fragments that are pressing on the spinal cord.
When successful, this surgery relieves symptoms of back and leg pain and also may aid in improving muscle weakness. Surgery of this type typically requires an overnight hospital stay.
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