Microendoscopic Discectomy (MED)

This minimally-invasive procedure is performed through a tubular device. It is designed to relieve pain caused by herniated discs pressing on nerve roots. This surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, which allows the patient to leave the hospital the same day. Rural Spine provides services for pain patients in Rock Springs, WY, Holdrege and Sidney, NE.

How is the procedure performed?

A guide wire is inserted through a small incision and is pushed to the affected disc level. The surgeon uses a special type of x-ray machine called a fluoroscope to ensure that the route to the herniated disc is made in the correct location. A series of dilating tubes are passed over the guide wire to push apart the tissue down to the vertebrae. The guide wire is then removed.

The tubular retractor, through which the surgery will be performed, is slid over the dilating tubes. It is positioned on the bone surface. All the dilating tubes are then removed. A surgical light and small camera or microscope are used to see through the tube. Surgical instruments are used to clear away bone and soft tissue in order to access the spinal canal. The surgeon uses a nerve retractor to gently move the nerve away from the herniated disc. The herniated disc portion of the disc is removed and the area is cleared, which allows for the nerve to move back to its normal position. The tubular retractor is removed, allowing the body tissue to close around the surgery area. The surface wound is closed with a small bandage.

How long will it take to recover?

Recovery time will vary from patient to patient. Most patients can expect to stay overnight depending on the severity of the condition. Back pain, muscle spasms and lower extremity symptoms are normal. The pain should clear up after a week or two as the patient continues to heal. You may be required to wear a back brace in the early stages of the healing process to ensure extra stability. Your Rock Spring pain doctor should approve you for light office work 2-4 weeks after the surgery. For jobs that are physically more demanding, you can expect to return 4-8 weeks.

What are the risks?

As with most surgical procedures, there is a risk of bleeding, infection, stroke, coma, heart attack and death.

Specific risks related to a micro endoscopic discectomy include:

  • Dural tear (cerebrospinal fluid leak)
  • Nerve damage
  • Bladder/bowel incontinence

When should I call my Rock Springs pain management doctor?

You should call us if you experience:

  • A temperature of 101.1° or above.
  • Increasing redness and swelling at the incision site.
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Changes in the amount, appearance, or odor of drainage from your incision.
  • New or increased changes in sensation/presence of numbness in extremities.
  • Severe pain that is not relieved by medication and rest.
  • Problems with your walking or balance
  • Questions or problems not covered by these instructions