Microdiscectomy is a term that we now use to describe what has previously been referred to as a lumbar laminectomy. A microdiscectomy is done for those patients who have simple ruptured or herniated discs, meaning they only have a ruptured disc and no other significant spinal problems. The advantage of this procedure is that it is done through a much smaller skin incision. Often, the incision is one inch or less in length. Dr. Irby is able to do this through a smaller incision becuase he uses magnification and special instruments. Because of the smaller incision, less dissection of muscle is required; therefore, there is much less postoperative pain. Most of these surgeries are being done under epidural anesthesia instead of general anesthesia. Epidural anesthesia is similar to an epidural a woman receives while in labor. You will be numb from the waist down, which avoids the tube down your throat during general anesthesia. You will be given something in your IV so you sleep during the surgery. This decreases the likelihood of post-operative nausea and vomiting. These patients typically are up and ambulating within a few hours of surgery and go home the same day as their surgery.
In a microdiscectomy Dr. Irby will only remove the portion of the disc which is ruptured and causing pressure on the nerve. The discs serve as cushions or pads between the bones in our spine (vertebrae); therefore, it is best to leave the undamaged disc intact.