LUMBAR LASER MICRODISCECTOMY

WHAT IS LUMBAR LASER MICRODISCECTOMY?

Also known as percutaneous laser disc decompression, lumbar laser microdiscectomy involves using a laser to vaporise the herniated discal tissue which is compressing the nerve root, causing the nucleus pulposus to retract and thus releasing the compressed nervous tissue.

Laser microdiscectomy is performed under local anaesthesia with mild sedation. It involves inserting a needle through the skin, from behind and slightly laterally, into the centre of the herniated disc, through which the optic fibre that conducts the laser is introduced.  Laser is then applied to evaporate the tissue that is compressing the nerve root, causing the nucleus pulposus to retract into the disc and so decompressing the nerve root.

Lumbar prolapsed disc with radicular compression
Insertion of the laser fibre
Lumbar prolapsed disc with radicular compression
Insertion of the laser fibre
Thermocoagulation using laser
Intervertebral disc after scarring retraction
Thermocoagulation using laser
Intervertebral disc after scarring retraction

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF LUMBAR LASER MICRODISCECTOMY?

The biggest advantage of lumbar laser microdiscectomy is the rapid recovery of the patient, who can go home a few hours after surgery and begins to notice the improvement of symptoms as soon as the effects of the anaesthesia have disappeared.

However, lumbar laser microdiscectomy has many other advantages:

  • Minimally invasive, so less damage to other tissues.

  • Outpatient procedure, so the patient returns home after completion of the procedure.
  • Performed under local anesthesia, so the procedure can be applied to older patients or those with poor general condition.
  • Absence of peri-radicular scarring and spinal instability.
  • Shorter rehabilitation.
  • After the procedure, open-field surgery can still be performed if necessary.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

All surgical procedures have risks and lumbar laser microdiscectomy is not an exception, but it is less invasive than open-field surgery so it has lower risks. It must be remembered, however, that its success rate is also lower.

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