Find a physician

What Is an Aggressive Discectomy?


6.24 - What Is an Aggressive Discectomy-min
Spinal health is crucial for overall wellbeing, and when back problems arise, they can significantly impact daily life. Among the various treatments for spinal issues, discectomy is a common surgical procedure used to relieve pressure on spinal nerves caused by a herniated disc. However, in severe cases, a standard discectomy might not be sufficient. This is where an aggressive discectomy comes into play. In this article you will learn about the specifics of an aggressive discectomy, exploring what it entails, its benefits, risks, and the recovery process.

What Is an Aggressive Discectomy?

An aggressive discectomy is a more extensive form of discectomy, a surgical procedure aimed at removing part or all of a damaged intervertebral disc that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Unlike a standard discectomy, which typically removes only the herniated portion of the disc, an aggressive discectomy involves the removal of a larger portion of the disc material and sometimes even adjacent structures if necessary. This approach is usually considered when there is significant spinal damage or when previous less invasive surgeries have failed to alleviate symptoms.

Why Opt for an Aggressive Discectomy?

Severe disc herniation

One of the primary reasons for opting for an aggressive discectomy is severe disc herniation. When a disc is severely herniated, it can cause excruciating pain, numbness, and weakness. In such cases, a more aggressive approach might be necessary to provide adequate relief.

Recurrent disc herniation

Patients who experience recurrent disc herniation may benefit from aggressive discectomies. If a standard discectomy has failed to prevent the recurrence of symptoms, removing more disc material can reduce the likelihood of future herniations.

Degenerative disc disease

In cases of advanced degenerative disc disease, where the discs between the vertebrae break down over time, an aggressive discectomy might be required. This procedure can stabilize the spine and reduce chronic pain associated with this condition.

What Is Involved in the Procedure?

An aggressive discectomy is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision in the back to access the spine. Using specialized instruments, the surgeon removes the damaged disc material and any other structures causing nerve compression. This might include bone spurs or portions of the vertebral bone. In some cases, the procedure may involve spinal fusion, where the affected vertebrae are fused together to provide stability. This ensures the spine remains stable after a significant amount of disc material has been removed.

What Are the Benefits of an Aggressive Discectomy?

Immediate pain relief

One of the most significant benefits of an aggressive discectomy is immediate pain relief. By removing the source of nerve compression, patients often experience a substantial reduction in pain immediately following the surgery.

Increased mobility

Patients who undergo aggressive discectomies frequently report increased mobility. By alleviating the pressure on the spinal nerves, the procedure can restore normal function and movement, allowing patients to return to their daily activities.

Reduced risk of reherniation

Since an aggressive discectomy removes a larger portion of the disc, it reduces the risk of reherniation. This can be particularly beneficial for patients who have experienced multiple disc herniations in the past.

What Are the Risks and Possible Complications?


As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection. This can occur at the incision site or deeper within the spine. Surgeons take extensive precautions to minimize this risk, but it remains a possibility.

Nerve damage

While the goal of the surgery is to relieve nerve compression, there is a risk of accidental nerve damage during the procedure. This can result in numbness, weakness, or even paralysis in rare cases.

Spinal instability

Removing a significant portion of the disc can sometimes lead to spinal instability. This is why spinal fusion surgery is often performed in conjunction with an aggressive discectomy to provide additional stability.

What Does the Recovery Process Look Like?

Hospital stay

Patients typically stay in the hospital for a few days following an aggressive discectomy. During this time, they are closely monitored for any signs of complications.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is a crucial part of the recovery process. A physical therapist will work with the patient to develop a personalized rehabilitation program aimed at restoring strength and mobility.

Pain management

Pain management is an essential aspect of recovery. Patients are usually prescribed pain medications to manage postoperative discomfort. As they heal, the need for these medications typically decreases.

Gradual return to activities

Patients are advised to gradually return to their normal activities. Lifting heavy objects and engaging in strenuous activities are usually discouraged for several weeks to allow the spine to heal properly.

An aggressive discectomy is a significant surgical intervention aimed at providing relief for severe spinal conditions. While it comes with its own set of risks, the benefits often outweigh them for patients suffering from debilitating pain and mobility issues. Understanding the procedure, its potential benefits, and the recovery process can help patients make informed decisions about their spinal health. If you are considering an aggressive discectomy, consult with a spinal specialist to determine if it is the right option for you.

Although discectomy surgery is a common and generally quite successful procedure, patients with a larger hole in the outer ring of the disc have a significantly higher risk of herniation following surgery. This risk is doubled if there is a large hole in the outer ring of the disc. Fortunately, there is a new treatment specifically designed to close the large holes that are often left in spinal discs after discectomy surgery. Barricaid is a bone-anchored device proven to reduce reherniations, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is performed immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment or how to get access to Barricaid, ask your doctor or contact us directly.

For full benefit/risk information, please visit:

Free Ebook Download:
Captivating Ebook Title Headline

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim ipsum dolor sit amet.