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How is intervertebral hernia removed?

Intervertebral hernia is a common cause of pain in the back, in the lumbar region and sacrum. This is the result of damage to one of the vertebral discs – the “shock absorbers” of the spine. The discs are composed of a cartilaginous sheath and a nucleus pulposus. If the sheath cracks or ruptures, the nucleus bulges outward, compressing the nerve root and causing severe pain. This swelling is called a hernia.

The most common causes of hernias

The tendency to osteochondrosis and the formation of hernias can be inherited. Also, a hernia can be caused by a tumor of the spine, a viral or infectious disease, or trauma. A large load on the spine, which increases the chance of a hernia, is experienced by both pregnant women and people involved in heavy physical labor or professional sports. Older people are also at risk due to age-related “wear and tear” of the spine.

A hernia can also be “earned” because of lifestyle. If a person sits at a computer for days or lies on the couch, the intervertebral discs become less durable. Excess weight only increases the load on the spinal column.

If medications do not relieve pain, and non-surgical methods do not help, surgery is prescribed. What are they?

Methods for removing intervertebral hernias

Previously, they performed a single operation – a discectomy. The affected disc was completely or partially removed. In order for the spine to continue to support the body in an upright position, it was necessary to replace the removed segment with a prosthesis or graft.

Such an intervention was traumatic, with a large incision, recovery after it was slow. Today it is considered obsolete. Its modern version is practiced – microdiscectomy with a small incision and the use of microsurgical equipment. The doctor controls the process using a surgical microscope.

Laminectomy is also common – the removal of the vertebral arches. The doctor will open the membrane of the spinal cord and remove the cause of compression. Healing in a few days, after a week the patient already leaves the hospital. But this method has risks – blood vessels can become clogged, and the nerve can be easily damaged during the operation.

Endoscopic intervention is also popular – it does not damage muscles and ligaments at all, healing and rehabilitation after surgery are fast. But endoscopy may not be performed for all types of hernia.

Today, thanks to the development of medical technology, there are two most modern operational approaches:

  • Disc nucleoplasty is the removal of only the damaged part of the disc nucleus. It is affected by a laser, cold plasma, radio frequencies, liquid pressure, current, a special disposable device. The operation lasts no more than an hour, the patient goes home the same day. But this technique is suitable only for the smallest hernias – no more than 6-7 mm.
  • Laser discoplasty. Part of the core of the disk is strongly heated by a laser beam for 5-10 minutes to evaporate it. This intervention is also only suitable for small hernias.

As practice shows, while the hernia is still small, there is a chance to remove it quickly and with a minimum recovery time. But it is worth remembering about the risks, the decision is always up to the patient.

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