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What is a Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy?

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy: surgery via small incision to remove portion of ruptured disc pressing on a nerve.

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy is a surgical procedure on the lumbar spine performed with the help of a surgical microscope and microsurgical techniques. This surgery requires only a very small incision, and it removes only the portion of the ruptured disc which pinches the spinal nerve roots.

Who needs Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy?

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy is recommended for patients who have leg pain that limits normal daily activities, weakness or numbness in legs or feet, and impaired bowel or bladder function. This surgery is suggested when the above symptoms are caused by pressure on the spinal cord, spinal nerves or nerve roots. The pressure may be caused by the intervertebral disc or bone materials.


The patient is turned on his or her abdomen and is sedated with the help of a general anesthesia. The surgeon makes a very small incision in the lower back.

Insertion of guide wire

The surgeon then inserts a guide wire in the incision until it touches the affected disc.

Insertion of dilating tubes

The surgeon then inserts a series of dilating tubes over the guide wire to push apart the muscles down to the vertebrae. Progressively larger dilators are brought down on top of one another over the guide wire. The guide wire is then removed.

Insertion of tubular retractor

A tubular retractor is then slid over the dilating tubes. Once the retractor is positioned on the bone surface, all of the dilating tubes are removed.

Removal of bone

A light and a small camera are inserted in the retractor to see through the tube. Access is gained to the spinal canal by removing bone and tissues with the help of surgical instruments.

Removal of herniated disc

The spinal nerve is gently moved away from the herniated disc with the help of a nerve retractor. The surgeon then removes the portion of the herniated disc which has been pinching the spinal nerve.


The nerve retractor is removed, and the spinal nerve comes back to its normal position. The tubular retractor is also removed, and a small bandage is applied over the wound.

What happens after Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy surgery?

After the surgery, the patient is moved to the recovery room where he or she stays for a few hours. This surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. The patient does not have to stay in the hospital overnight. He or she is discharged from the hospital on the same day.

The recovery time for Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy is usually much less than required for traditional lumbar surgeries.

This material is intended to give the patient an overview of surgical procedures and treatments and is not intended to replace the advice and guidance of a physician. Always consult with your doctor about the particular risks and benefits of your treatment.