Regis W. Haid, Jr., MD, Spine Surgeon

Atlanta, Georgia
(404) 350-0106

Lumbar Herniated Discs

A lumbar herniated disc is a common cause of low back and leg pain. Discs, which act as shock absorbers for the spine, are located in between each of the vertebrae in the spine. Each disc contains a tire-like outer band (called the annulus fibrosus) that surrounds a gel-like substance (called the nucleus pulposus).

Regis W. Haid, Jr. MD

A herniation occurs when the outer band of the disc breaks or cracks and the gel-like substance from the inside of the disc leaks out, placing pressure on the spinal canal or nerve roots. In addition, the nucleus releases chemicals that can irritate the surrounding nerves causing inflammation and pain.

herniated disc

Most lumbar disc herniations occur as a result of sudden stress, such as from an accident. Sometimes they occur gradually, over weeks or even months. The risk factors that can contribute to the chances of a disc herniation, include:

  • Aging. As we get older, discs gradually dry out, losing their strength and resiliency.
  • Lifestyle choices. Lack of regular exercise, not eating a well-balanced diet, being over-weight, and tobacco use substantially contribute to poor disc health.
  • Poor posture, incorrect and/or repetitive lifting or twisting can place additional stress on the lumbar spine.

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?
As the name suggests, minimally invasive spine surgery allows the surgeon to make smaller incisions in the skin and avoid large muscle retraction. The surgeon uses a thin telescope-like instrument, called an endoscope, which is inserted through a small incision. A tiny video camera and light are connected to the endoscope and send images from "inside" the body to a screen in the operating room. Small tubes are then inserted through other small incisions. Special surgical instruments are inserted through these tubes and used to perform the surgical procedure.

Advantages of minimally invasive techniques
Minimally invasive spine surgery generally results in the same surgical outcome as with more traditional techniques. However, there are a number of advantages to minimally invasive techniques, including:

  • Reduced operative times.
  • Less soft tissue damage, due to reduced muscle retraction.
  • Surgical incisions are less painful.
  • Reduced blood loss.
  • Recovery is faster with less post-operative pain.
  • The hospital stay is shortened.
  • Since incisions are much smaller, scaring is less noticeable and cosmetically more pleasing.

Dr. Haid's Use of Minimally Invasive Techniques
Our priority is providing the best care for our patients. For this reason, we offer a variety of minimally invasive techniques that we feel are scientifically proven, but we avoid others that remain unproven or are not right for a particular problem. The minimally invasive techniques we offer include:

  • Discectomy - Discectomies involve the removal of intervertebral discs. At our practice we do many discectomies minimally invasively, using small incisions to access the spine and to perform the discectomy.
  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF). A traditional approach for an ALIF procedure involves significant soft tissue damage and blood loss. We utilize a mini-open approach for ALIF. This is a far less invasive procedure than the traditional approach, but is also safer than the laparoscopic technique
  • Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF). We utilize a mini-open PLIF technique for such conditions as spondylolisthesis and degenerative disc disease. In fact, spine surgeons now use the retractor system we developed for this technique across the United States.
  • Pedicle screws – Until recently, the insertion of pedicle screws has required the surgeon to expose the pedicles. Today, we use different techniques that allow us to implant pedicle screws through the skin without disturbing muscles and tendons.

Conclusion
We only adopt new techniques when their safety and quality are clearly proven. However, once these proofs have been provided, we are at the forefront of adopting new technologies and techniques for the benefit of our patients

Spinal Surgery Treatment

Spine Conditions