An outpatient surgical procedure on the lumbar (lower back) portion of the spine, the goal of minimally invasive lumbar discectomy is to remove a portion of a ruptured or herniated disc that is pinching or compressing a nerve root of the spinal cord.

Using a surgical microscope and other tools, minimally invasive lumbar discectomy is typically a necessary procedure for patients experiencing substantial pain in their legs that affects their ability to undertake normal daily activities due to a weakness or numbness in the legs and feet combined with bowel and bladder problems. These problems are the result of pressure being exerted on the spinal cord and spinal nerves due to issues with bones and discs of the spine.

After the patient is positioned face down, a surgeon makes a small incision in the lower back and inserts a guide wire to a point where it makes contact with the affected disc. Then, by utilizing a series of larger and larger dilators that are pushed down over the wire, an opening is created through the back muscles, clearing a path to the affected vertebra.

After a retractor tube is positioned over the disc and the dilator tubes are removed, the surgeon, with the assistance of a small camera and light, removes various bone and tissue and pushes aside the spinal nerve, gaining clear access to the herniated disc. The portion of that disc that has been impacting the nerve is likewise removed, relieving pressure on the nerve.

Recovery from a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy is fairly rapid, much less so than with more traditional lumbar surgeries.