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Is Microdiscectomy Better than Discectomy?


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Microdiscectomy vs Discectomy: Which One Is Right for You?

When it comes to treating debilitating back pain caused by herniated discs, the choice between microdiscectomy and traditional discectomy is a pivotal decision. Each method has its merits, risks, and unique approach to alleviating spinal discomfort. In this article you will learn the nuances of these procedures, helping you make an informed choice for a healthier spine.

Microdiscectomy: The Minimally Invasive Marvel 

Microdiscectomy, often hailed as the more modern approach, involves the removal of a herniated disc fragment through a tiny incision. This minimally invasive technique utilizes advanced tools and technology, allowing for precision and quicker back surgery recovery time compared to its traditional counterpart.

Benefits of Microdiscectomy:

  • Faster recovery – With smaller incisions, microdiscectomy promotes quicker healing, enabling patients to return to their normal activities sooner.
  • Reduced scarring – The minimal incision size translates to less scarring, addressing both cosmetic concerns and potential complications associated with extensive scarring.
  • Lower risk of infection – The reduced exposure minimizes the risk of infection, a crucial factor in post-operative care.

Traditional Discectomy: A Time-Tested Approach

Traditional discectomy, a long-standing method, involves making a larger incision to access and remove herniated disc material. While it may lack the modern flair of microdiscectomy, this approach has stood the test of time and remains a viable option for certain cases.

Benefits of Traditional Discectomy:

  • Versatility– Traditional discectomy allows for a broader view of the affected area, enabling surgeons to address more extensive disc herniations.
  • Proven efficacy – With a history of successful outcomes, traditional discectomy has demonstrated its effectiveness in treating a variety of spinal conditions.
  • Accessibility – In some cases, the larger incision provides easier access to the affected disc, facilitating a thorough removal of herniated material.

Choosing the Right Path: Factors to Consider

The choice between microdiscectomy and discectomy depends on several factors, including:

  • Severity of the herniation – The extent of disc herniation plays a crucial role in determining the most suitable procedure. While microdiscectomy excels in addressing smaller herniations, traditional discectomy may be preferred for more extensive cases.
  • Patient health and age – The overall health and age of the patient may influence the choice of surgery. Younger, healthier individuals may lean toward microdiscectomy for its quicker recovery, while traditional discectomy may be a prudent choice for older patients.
  • Surgeon’s recommendation – The experience and expertise of the surgeon play pivotal roles. A surgeon may recommend a specific procedure based on his or her familiarity and success with a particular approach.

Post-Operative Care: What to Expect

The recovery periods for microdiscectomy and traditional discectomy differ in both duration and recommended activity levels.

Microdiscectomy Recovery:

  • Early mobility – Patients are encouraged to engage in light activities soon after microdiscectomy to prevent stiffness and promote a faster recovery.
  • Physical therapy – A structured physical therapy program is often prescribed to aid in rehabilitation and strengthen the back muscles.

Traditional Discectomy Recovery:

  • Gradual resumption of activities – Due to the larger incision, recovery from traditional discectomy may involve a more gradual return to regular activities.
  • Cautious rehabilitation – Physical therapy is typically an integral part of discectomy recovery, focusing on restoring strength and flexibility.

Tailoring Treatment to Individual Needs

While microdiscectomy and traditional discectomy share the common goal of alleviating pain caused by herniated discs, the choice between the two depends on various factors. Patient-specific considerations, the severity of the herniation, and the surgeon’s recommendation all contribute to crafting an effective treatment plan. It is essential to engage in a thorough discussion with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable approach for your unique situation.

Although both discectomy and microdiscectomy surgery are generally very successful procedures, a hole is left in the outer wall of the disc. Patients with a large hole in the outer ring of the disc are more than twice as likely to experience reherniations after surgery. A new treatment, Barricaid, which is a bone-anchored device proven to reduce reherniations, was specifically designed to close the large hole often left in the spinal disc after microdiscectomy. In a large-scale study, 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in the 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done 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.

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