The spine consists of 23 discs that serve as buffer between each vertebra. The discs get damaged and sometimes misaligned, causing pain and discomfort; this is known as herniated disc. Although most patients with a herniated disc respond well to non-surgical treatments, some require surgery. The most common surgery is a discectomy. This is a surgical procedure that removes all or part of the damaged intervertebral disc. If the problem is in the neck, the procedure is done from below and is called anterior discectomy. Sometimes the surgeon can “create space” for the disc and nerve removing part of the bone covering the nerve. This is called laminectomy.
Recently, surgeons are using less invasive techniques known as “minimally invasive” or “percutaneous” or “micro discectomy”. In these techniques, surgeons perform the entire operation with a small incision or through a tube that allows the insertion of a tiny camera and special surgical instruments. Sometimes the disc is replaced with an artificial disc, although it is more common in the neck than in the lumbar region.
In conditions like the Facet syndrome, herniated disc, nerve root compression, disc degeneration or foraminal stenosis, the alternative is the placement of a device that protects the discs and spine structures, called ISD (Interspinous Device). This device is implanted by making a small incision in the back, often using local anesthesia and it may take between 45 and 90 minutes. The implant is designed to maintain an open space where the nerve exits, so that when standing, the nerves that exit through the orifices will not get pinched and cause pain.