This minimally invasive procedure is used to remove overgrown vertebral bone and soft tissue to relieve the compression of nerve roots in the lumbar spine. It is performed through a small incision on the back.
After anesthesia has been administered and the patient is positioned face down, the surgeon uses a portable x-ray machine to identify the diseased vertebral level or levels. Then, the surgeon makes the smallest possible incision in the skin directly above the target level.
Accessing the Vertebra
A series of dilators of increasing size are carefully guided down through muscles and soft tissue. The surgeon slides a tubular retractor over the dilators and removes the dilators, creating a working channel that leaves muscle tissue intact. This working channel allows the surgeon to access the target vertebra and painful nerve root in a way that minimizes incisional pain and scarring of the muscles.
The surgeon may use a microscope or endoscope to direct surgical instruments through the working channel. Excess bone or ligament tissue is carefully removed from the space around the nerve root, relieving pressure and pain.