Herniated discs are caused by a weakness in the outer rim of the disc (annulus). The inner part of the disc (nucleus pulposus) then herniates or pops out through the annulus and compresses a spinal nerve. This can result in severe leg pain, numbness, tingling or weakness.
A minimally invasive discectomy is a procedure that is performed through a very small incision less than an inch long. A small tube is placed in between the muscle fibers to preserve muscles, tendons and ligaments. Through the small tube, specialized instruments and microscopes are used to create a small window in the bone. The nerves are gently moved to the side and the piece of disc material that is compressing the nerve is removed. This is typically only 10% of the disc. The remaining majority of the disc is left intact.
This procedure involves very minimal blood loss, is done outpatient and is sutureless.
Not all patients and procedures are the same. The above is an example of what the typical patient can expect from some minimally invasive procedures.