What is a laser diskectomy?
A laser diskectomy (diskectomy or percutaneous laser diskectomy) is a surgical procedure in which the bulged out part of an intervertebral disk (herniated disk) in your spine is removed by evaporating it by using laser energy delivered through a small incision (minimally invasive surgery) made on the skin and soft tissues over the affected disk. A minimally invasive technique, a laser diskectomy causes less pain and has a fast recovery rate.
The spine or backbone is composed of a series of bones called the vertebrae. The chain of vertebrae forms a hollow column or path through which the spinal cord runs in a way that the vertebrae protect the cord from injury.
The vertebrae rest on each other with disks (intervertebral disks) between each vertebra to provide cushioning and support. Many nerves from the spinal cord pass through small holes in the vertebrae called foramen.
In some conditions, such as aging, injury, or certain infections, the outer wall of one of these disks may dry out and weaken, and the soft, inner part of the disk bulges out. This condition is called a herniated or bulging disk.
The bulging disk may press on the nerves and spinal cord to cause symptoms such as pain, weakness or tingling. In such cases, a laser diskectomy can remove the part of the disk compressing the nerves by burning it with a laser, providing relief.
What happens during a laser diskectomy?
- A laser diskectomy is an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home the same day. You may, however, need someone to drive you back home.
- The anesthetist administers local anesthesia with light sedation so that you do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
- The surgeon monitors your vitals (such as blood pressure and heart rate) during the procedure.
- The skin is cleaned with antiseptic, and drapes are applied.
- The surgeon makes an incision (a small surgical cut) on your back at the level of the affected disk.
- The surgeon uses fluoroscopy (an imaging technique) to find the correct location.
- The surgeon advances a thin needle through your back under image guidance.
- Once the needle reaches the desired location, laser energy is applied to vaporize the part of the disk that is causing the problem.
- The needle is removed.
- A small bandage is placed to close the wound.
Who would need a laser diskectomy?
A laser diskectomy may be indicated in people who have a herniated disk, along with associated symptoms, such as pain, burning sensation, tingling, or weakness in the area supplied by the compressed nerve/s.
Not every person with a herniated disk requires a laser discectomy, and the doctor may recommend surgery if conservative therapy such as medications, rest, physical therapy, and weight management have failed.
All cases of herniated disk, however, cannot be treated with a laser discectomy, and some may require open surgery.
What is the success rate of a diskectomy?
A diskectomy is an effective procedure providing relief to many patients with a herniated disk. The success rate depends on many factors such as
- The extent of disk herniation,
- The extent of nerve/spinal cord compression,
- The duration of the diseases and
- The presence of other health conditions (such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity)
On average, the success rate is approximately 80% for diskectomy. Some risks associated with the procedure are:
- Discitis (inflammation of the intervertebral disk)
- Excess bleeding
- Blood clots
- Nerve injury
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Is a Laser Diskectomy Related Articles
Back Pain: Bad HabitsYou’re more likely to have back pain as you get older. Here’s how to avoid making things worse with bad habits.
16 Back Pain Truths and MythsWhich mattress is best for back pain? Back pain conditions are very common. Learn the causes of upper and lower back pain. Find the truth and get the facts behind back pain myths, remedies, causes and treatment.
Back Pain QuizThere are numerous causes of chronic lower back pain and only one ailment gets more complaints. What is it? Quiz your knowledge of symptoms, treatments, problems, and reasons for common back pain.
Low Back Pain ExercisesOne of the best low back pain treatments is exercise. Learn more about low back pain exercises--what works, and what doesn't. Discover severe low back pain relief through various gentle workouts designed to protect and strengthen the lumbar, core, and other related muscle groups.
Low Back Pain ReliefDo you suffer from low back pain? Learn more about common triggers of lower back pain like posture, exercise, and spondylosis. Find out about pain relief treatments like massage, yoga, stretching, exercises for back pain, and chiropractic medicine. See when surgery for back pain makes sense.