A discectomy involves the removal of a disc. A laminectomy involves the
trimming or removal of the lamina bone. A fusion is an operation where two
or more vertebral bones are joined together. A single surgery may include
more than one of these three procedures. For example, one might remove a
bit of the lamina to get to a bad disc which is then shaved down by doing
a discectomy. One might do a discectomy to prepare a space for a
fusion. Sometimes when we say laminectomy, we mean partial laminectomy
(also called laminotomy). When we say discectomy, we usually mean a
partial discectomy where only the bad part of the disc is removed.
Endoscopic procedures are
minimally invasive surgeries. Some can be
done without an incision and without a hospital stay. In an endoscopic
discectomy, damaged disc material is trimmed under local anesthesia and
guided by x-ray. The procedure takes about an hour, and patients normally
feel little, if any, pain or discomfort. There are no stitches.
Unfortunately, not all back surgeries can be performed using
invasive techniques. But if you have put off having a “bad back” repaired
for years for fear of a major operation, see your neurologist to find out
if conservative measures or one of the newer procedures might benefit you.
P.S. Endoscopic discectomy differs from open
lumbar disc surgery in
that there is no trauma to back muscle, no bone removal, and no large