Laser Discectomy

A laser discectomy is one in which the burning force of the laser is used to burn away disc material to remove a herniated lumbar disc. This procedure requires the same bony opening done in a conventional lumbar discectomy, thus no change from a conventional approach. The difference being that the laser is used to burn away the disc once the open operation has been performed. Conventional instruments used to grasp the disc, or scrape some of the disc out of the disc space works quite well without the effect of burning the tissue. Once the tissue surrounding the disc has been burned by the laser there is, in our opinion, a higher chance of causing a disc space infection and inflammation in the bone, which could lead to long term antibiotic use, additional pain and no advantage to conventionally removing the disc material. Thus, in our opinion, there is no advantage to the lumbar laser discectomy and perhaps some additional risks to the procedure. We have not performed this operation for these reasons.

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