A microdiscectomy, or simply discectomy, is a surgical procedure to treat a herniated disc. It is similar to ACDF, but is usually performed to treat sciatica (radiating leg pain) and sometimes lower back pain. Microdiscectomy also differs from ACDF in that the surgeon only removes the part of the disc that has ruptured rather than the entire disc. This is designed to relieve the pressure on the nerve root caused by the herniation.
In the procedure, an incision less than an inch long is made in the back behind the disc being treated. A small tube is placed to push aside and preserve the muscles, tendons and ligaments, and a small window is created in the bone. The nerves are gently held aside and the piece of disc material compressing the nerve is removed. The remaining majority of the disc is left intact. Patients who undergo a microdiscectomy to treat sciatica generally experience immediate pain relief, but numbness, tingling, and weakness may take longer to subside. The microdiscectomy technique is very common and many surgeons, including our own providers, are highly skilled in the procedure.