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Intervertebral Discectomy

General Information

Vertebral discs are part of the spine. The spine is comprised of bones known as vertebra, which make up the spinal column and protect nerves that make up the spinal cord. Discs positioned between each of the vertebra act as shock absorbers and allow us to twist, bend, and rotate. These discs are also called intervertebral discs of disks. An intervertebral discectomy refers to the removal of one or more discs between the spinal vertebrae.

Intervertebral discectomy may be done in the lumber, or lower back region, the thoracic, or middle back, and cervical or neck regions of the spine.

Reasons for Intervertebral Discectomy

  • Reduce pain when sitting, walking or standing
  • Herniated discs
  • Slipped disc
  • Damaged or diseased disc
  • Relieve pressure against the spinal cord
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Sciatica


  • Physical examination
  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI


During the discectomy procedure, a portion or the entire disc is removed from the spinal column. The approach to most intervertebral discectomy procedures is through the side or directly over the area of the spine where the damaged disc is located.

The surgeon:

  • Makes an incision corresponding to the location of the damaged disc, often employing a laparoscopic approach
  • Creates a small viewing area in the vertebral bone over the herniated or slipped disc
  • Carefully moves aside any nerves or nerve rots
  • Using special instruments, the surgeon removes disc materials from the incision site

What to Expect

You'll be placed under general anesthesia during the procedure. The length of the procedure depends on the location of the damaged disc; cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine, as well as whether the surgeon opts for a partial or total discectomy. It may take several weeks for you to feel relief from pain or pressure caused by a herniated or slipped disc, and you'll be cautioned against twisting or bending activities. Follow your doctor's advice regarding physical therapy or return to normal daily activities depending on your condition and prognosis.