Doctor taking blood pressure of patient.

Microendoscopic Discectomy (MED)

Those who suffer from spinal conditions can find effective surgical treatment and compassionate care throughout Providence hospitals. Our orthopedic and neurological surgeons work to perfect procedures such as the microendoscopic discectomy, allowing them to eliminate a patient’s back pain with precise expertise and dedicated care.

The microendoscopic discectomy (MED) is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to remove fragments of herniated or ruptured discs from the spine.

Often due to injury, the outer portion of our spinal discs, known as the annulus, can tear. The tearing of the annulus makes the inner part of the tissue – the nucleus pulposus – protrude and add pressure to the spinal nerves that surround the disk.

When a nerve along the spine is compressed, it can cause symptoms such as extremity pain, numbness, weakness, electrical sensations, and bowel and bladder incontinence.

Unlike open microdiscectomy, microendoscopic discectomy uses minimally invasive techniques such as smaller incisions and precise endoscopes, causing less trauma to the spine and its surrounding tissue. The smaller incision allows for decreased post-operative pain and a faster recovery.

Before your microendoscopic discectomy, you will undergo general anesthesia.

During the procedure, your surgeon makes a small incision on your back, over the part of the spine where the herniated disc is located.

Using a guide wire and fluoroscopic imaging, the surgeon places a series of small tubes into your spine. The tubes help safely move the muscle and tissue surrounding your vertebrae to allow access to your damaged disc.

Using the dilating tubes as a guide, your surgeon inserts an endoscopic probe with a small camera to view the intervertebral disc on a TV screen in the operating room. The probe also allows the surgeon to carefully insert tiny instruments to the spinal canal.

The instruments are used to remove bone and herniated disc fragments. Once the damaged portions of the disc are removed, the nerve is able to move back into place without pressure and compression from the disc.

The procedure usually takes about one hour and patients can often return home on the same day.

It is normal for a patient to experience postoperative pain, such as back pain, spasms and lower extremity symptoms. These symptoms will usually improve as the nerve heals and inflammation of the nerve decreases.

Microendoscopic discectomy is considered one of the safest spinal procedures. Despite the unlikelihood of a complication occurring, the surgery does carry its risks. These include infection, blood clots in the spine, spinal leakage and possible nerve damage.

When you partner with Providence for your surgery, you can rest easy knowing your team of orthopedic and neurosurgeons have the skill and experience necessary to reduce your risk of complication.