Microdiscectomy vs Laminectomy: What’s the Difference?

Laminectomy is a surgical procedure which removes part or all of the testicles (or both) and scrotum. A small incision is made in the abdomen with stitches placed around each testicle. If there are no complications, then one will have two testicles removed.

Microdiscectomy is a medical term which means removing only the skin from the inside of the body. This is done when there are problems with the organs themselves.

For example, if cancerous cells grow in a tumor, they may not be able to spread through normal tissue. Therefore, surgeons remove just the cancerous area rather than all of it. This type of surgery was developed for cases where a large amount of skin would need to be removed due to trauma or infection.

The main difference between these two types of surgeries is the size of the incisions made. Microdiscectomies usually involve making smaller incisions while laminectomies require larger ones.

Also, laminectomies tend to be less invasive whereas microdiscectomies might require general anesthesia. There are other differences but those are some of the major reasons why you might want to choose one over another.

What Does a Laminectomy Do?

A laminectomy is the surgical procedure of removing part or all of the spinal bone (vertebrae) which causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. This allows for more space in which the important nerves can grow. Common reasons why someone might need a laminectomy include:

1) You have a congenital narrowing or irregularity in your spinal column that may put pressure on the nerves if not removed.

2) You have a tumor that causes the spinal cord or nerves to be constricted.

3) You have severe degeneration of the bones in your spine causing weakness and instability.

4) You have spinal fractures or breakages that need to heal properly.

5) You have severe arthritis or other conditions causing bone spurs and an irregular bone structure.

What Are the Benefits of a Laminectomy?

There are many benefits to having surgery including:

1) The spinal cord or nerves do not get pinched or compressed any longer.

2) There is more flexibility in the spine and less chance of a break or injury to the bones.

3) There is more stability and support for the spinal column.

What Are the Risks or Side Effects of a Laminectomy?

As with any surgery, there are risks and side effects that you must be aware of before having a laminectomy. The most common side effect is the inability to hold your urine or having an overactive bladder. Others may include:

1) Dysesthesia (unpleasant sensations such as burning, prickling, tingling, or numbness in the area of the surgery).

2) Some loss of flexibility in the spinal column may occur.

3) Some loss in spinal strength and support may occur.

4) Severe back pain may persist or become worse.

5) Weakness in the legs or difficulty walking may become an issue.

6) Your ability to sense below the level of your surgery (legs, feet, and toes) may be diminished or gone.

7) Your back may be at greater risk for developing new problems in the future.

Should I Have a Laminectomy?

If you are experiencing severe back pain, leg pain, or numbness in your legs, it may be time to seek medical attention. While there are many non-surgical ways to relieve these conditions, many of them only provide a short-term solution and eventually more drastic measures may need to be taken. If you have tried physical therapy, exercise, and chiropractic treatment and they haven’t provided the relief you seek, then a laminectomy may be an option. If you suffer from any of the conditions listed above, then a laminectomy would be worth looking into as a potential solution.

Laminectomies are considered major surgeries so you will want to do plenty of research before committing to one. If you decide that a laminectomy is the right surgery for you, make sure you choose the best surgeon available and discuss all the risks and benefits with him or her thoroughly.

You should also discuss the potential need for rehabilitation and how long you should expect to be out of work after your surgery. A laminectomy is not a quick fix, but rather a last resort to provide short- and long-term relief from the pain you experience on a daily basis.

While this procedure can help alleviate some of the pain caused by damaged or deteriorating discs, it will not provide a cure. You may still need to undergo further back surgeries in the future.

Be sure to ask your surgeon about the possibility of future surgeries and what can be done to prevent them.

A laminectomy can be a life-changing procedure so make sure you research all your options carefully before committing to one.

Talk to your doctor about a laminectomy.

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image courtesy of artelia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Next Question: My job requires a lot of heavy lifting. I’ve been experiencing lower back pain for quite some time and it’s not getting better.

What can I do to relieve the pain?

Here’s a list of questions to ask your doctor about back pain. These are the same questions I asked my doctor during my own diagnosis process. Add them to your own checklist to use during your own evaluation. Remember to take notes during your doctor visit so you can remember what you need when it comes time to filling a prescription or buying equipment for home.

Sources & references used in this article:

Arthroscopic microdiscectomy by P Kambin – Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic & Related …, 1992 – Elsevier

A 10-year follow-up of the outcome of lumbar microdiscectomy by GF Findlay, BI Hall, BS Musa, MD Oliveira, SC Fear – Spine, 1998 – journals.lww.com

Arthroscopic microdiscectomy: an alternative to open disc surgery. by P Kambin, MH Savitz – The Mount Sinai journal of medicine, New …, 2000 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Arthroscopic microdiscectomy and selective fragmentectomy. by P Kambin, E O’Brien, L Zhou… – Clinical orthopaedics and …, 1998 – europepmc.org

Transforaminal endoscopic microdiscectomy. by HH Mathews – Neurosurgery Clinics of North America, 1996 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Standard open microdiscectomy versus minimal access trocar microdiscectomy: results of a prospective randomized study by YM Ryang, MF Oertel, L Mayfrank, JM Gilsbach… – …, 2008 – academic.oup.com

Limited surgical discectomy and microdiscectomy: a clinical comparison by N Kahanovitz, K Viola, J Muculloch – Spine, 1989 – journals.lww.com

Can exercise therapy improve the outcome of microdiscectomy? by P Dolan, K Greenfield, RJ Nelson, IW Nelson – Spine, 2000 – journals.lww.com