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Minimally Invasive Discectomy

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Meet with Dr. Valente or Dr. Indresano in person at one of our 7 convenient DFW locations.

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Micro Endoscopic Discectomy

Understanding the Spine and Discs

The spine, often referred to as the backbone, is a stacked column of vertebrae that extends from the base of the skull to the tailbone. The spinal column is segmented into three main regions: the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), and lumbar (lower back). Between each vertebra lies a disc, a gel-like cushion that acts as a shock absorber, preventing bone-on-bone friction and allowing flexibility.

Each disc is composed of two parts:

  • Annulus Fibrosus: The tough, outer layer that provides structure and strength.
  • Nucleus Pulposus: The soft, jelly-like center that gives the disc its cushioning ability.

According to the Association of Neurological Surgeons, while a single excessive strain or injury can lead to a herniated disc, the natural aging process also plays a significant role. As individuals age, disc material undergoes degeneration, and the ligaments holding it in place start to weaken. This degenerative progression means that even a minor strain or a simple twisting movement can result in a disc rupture.

Furthermore, certain individuals might be inherently more susceptible to disc issues. This vulnerability can lead to herniated discs occurring in multiple locations along the spine. Intriguingly, research indicates a genetic component to this susceptibility, with a predisposition for herniated discs appearing to run in families where several members are affected.

Understanding the anatomy and function of the spine and discs provides a comprehensive perspective on the significance of Minimally Invasive Discectomy.

What is Minimally Invasive Discectomy?

Minimally Invasive Discectomy is a modern surgical procedure specifically designed to treat herniated discs in the spine. Unlike traditional open surgeries, or spine surgery which often require large incisions and significant muscle retraction, this technique utilizes small incisions, specialized instruments, and advanced imaging techniques to precisely target and address the problematic disc.

The primary goal of Minimally Invasive Discectomy is to remove the portion of the disc that’s pressing on a nerve, thereby alleviating pain and other symptoms. By adopting this approach, patients can expect a more comfortable surgical experience, quicker recovery, and a faster return to their daily activities.

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Why Minimally Invasive Discectomy?

The shift towards minimally invasive procedures in the medical field is driven by the desire to offer patients effective treatments with fewer complications and quicker recovery times. Minimally Invasive Discectomy stands out as a preferred choice for several reasons:

  • Enhanced Patient Comfort: The smaller incisions mean less post-operative pain and discomfort. This often results in a reduced need for pain medications, helping minimize potential side effects and dependency risks.
  • Speedy Recovery: Traditional back surgeries can require extended recovery periods, often lasting several weeks or even months. With Minimally Invasive Discectomy, many patients find themselves back to their somewhat regular routines within a few days.
  • Reduced Risk of Infections: Larger surgical wounds are generally more susceptible to infections. The smaller incisions associated with this procedure significantly lower the risk of post-operative infections.
  • Minimal Scarring: Aesthetic concerns are valid, and the smaller incisions of this procedure lead to much less noticeable scars, offering patients confidence in their post-surgery appearance.
  • Preservation of Muscular Integrity: Traditional surgeries often involve cutting or retracting muscles, which can lead to longer healing times and potential complications. Minimally invasive techniques minimize muscle disruption, preserving their function and strength.
  • Cost-Effective: While the upfront costs might be similar or slightly higher due to specialized equipment, the overall costs often end up being lower. This is due to shorter hospital stays, reduced medication needs, and a quicker return to work and daily activities.

In essence, Minimally Invasive Discectomy involves advanced technology with surgical expertise, aiming to provide patients with the best possible outcomes with the least amount of disruption to their lives.

The Procedure: Step-by-Step

Minimally Invasive Discectomy, while intricate, is a streamlined procedure that prioritizes patient safety and effective outcomes. While all patients and procedures vary, here’s a general breakdown of what patients might expect:

  1. Pre-operative Preparations:
    • Consultation: The surgeon reviews the patient’s medical history, imaging results, and discusses the procedure in detail.
    • Pre-surgery Instructions: Patients might be advised to refrain from eating or drinking several hours before the surgery. Certain medications may also need to be paused.
  2. Anesthesia:
    • Patients are administered anesthesia to ensure they’re comfortable and pain-free during the procedure. The type (general or local) depends on the patient’s health and the surgeon’s preference.
  3. Making the Incision:
    • A small incision, typically less than an inch, is made over the affected disc area.
  4. Accessing the Spine:
    • Using specialized instruments and guided by real-time imaging, the surgeon accesses the spine with minimal disruption to the surrounding muscles and tissues.
  5. Removing the Herniated Disc Material:
    • The protruding or herniated portion of the disc that’s compressing the nerve is carefully removed. The primary goal is to alleviate pressure and pain.
  6. Closure:
    • The incision is closed using sutures or surgical staples. Given its small size, it often heals quickly with minimal scarring.
  7. Post-operative Monitoring:
    • After the procedure, patients are taken to a recovery room where vital signs, neurological responses, and comfort levels are closely monitored.
  8. Discharge:
    • Most patients are eligible for discharge soon after the procedure on the same day, though some might require a short hospital stay for observation. Before leaving, patients receive detailed post-operative care instructions.
  9. Follow-up:
    • A follow-up appointment is scheduled to monitor the healing process, remove sutures or staples if necessary, and address any concerns.

Throughout the procedure, every measure is taken to ensure patient safety and comfort. The combination of advanced technology, specialized instruments, and the surgeon’s expertise ensures that Minimally Invasive Discectomy is both effective and minimally disruptive.

Ideal Candidates for the Procedure Determining the right candidates for Minimally Invasive Discectomy is crucial for ensuring optimal outcomes. While this procedure offers numerous benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. Patients should talk to their doctor to find out if this procedure suits their specific needs. Ideal candidates typically:

  • Exhibit Symptoms of a Herniated Disc: This includes persistent back or neck pain, tingling sensations, numbness, or muscle weakness that correlates with imaging findings.
  • Have Tried Conservative Treatments: Before considering surgery, patients should have attempted non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy, medications, or injections without significant relief.
  • Have Clear Imaging Results: MRI or CT scans should clearly show a herniated disc that corresponds with the patient’s symptoms.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

The post-operative phase is as crucial as the surgery itself. Here’s what patients might expect during their recovery:

  • Immediate Post-operative Period: Patients might feel some discomfort, but this is typically well-managed with medications. Many can start walking within a few hours after the procedure.
  • Physical Therapy: After a few days, patients are often advised to begin physical therapy. This helps strengthen the back muscles, improve flexibility, and expedite the healing process.
  • Activity Restrictions: While patients can return to most daily activities within a week, they’re advised to avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, or excessive bending for several weeks.
  • Follow-up Visits: Regular check-ups with the surgeon are essential to monitor the healing process, address any concerns, and ensure that the spine is recovering well.

With proper care and adherence to post-operative guidelines, most patients experience a smooth recovery and a significant reduction in their symptoms.

Hospital Stay

Hospital Stay


Patients usually leave an hour after the procedure.

Surgery Type

Surgery Type

Minimally Invasive

Incision is typically a half an inch long.

Blood Loss



This procedure will cause minimal blood loss with limited tissue disruption.

Recovery Time

Recovery Time

Hours to weeks

Patients usually leave an hour after the procedure. No heavy lifting, twisting or bending for 6 weeks after the procedure. Back to work a few days after surgery.

Surgery Time

Surgery Time


The procedure is usually completed in 30 minutes.

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.

Meet some of the Most Trusted Spine Doctors in North Texas

Fast Facts about Dr. Valente

  • Board Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
  • Nationwide, ranked Number 3 among all orthopedic surgeons sitting for oral board examination (AOBOS)
  • Has been appointed to Clinical Instructor positions at both Michigan State University and the University of California
  • Has lectured and published extensively
  • Participated in numerous research protocols
Spine Doctor Mark Valente

Fast Facts about Dr. Indresano

  • Board Certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon
  • He graduated top of his class at the University of California, San Diego
  • Received Fellow Research award for spine research at University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Extensively published in leading, peer-reviewed medical journals
  • Served as Academic Chief of residency program during his time in San Diego
Spine Doctor Andy Indresano

Meet with Dr. Valente or Dr. Indresano in person at one of our 7 convenient DFW locations

Ready for life without back pain? Dr. Valente and Dr. Indresano are here to help. Submit your information and our staff will contact you shortly.

"*" indicates required fields

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