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Minimally Invasive Discectomy

What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, is usually caused by gradual wear and tear on the intervertebral discs in the spine. These discs act as cushions between the vertebrae, providing flexibility and shock absorption. Typically, a single distinct incident leads to a herniated or ruptured disc, but the single movement may be years in the making.

Repetitive stress, poor body mechanics, obesity, smoking and genetics also play a role. A herniated disc may also result from a sudden traumatic event, such as a fall, a car accident, or lifting a heavy object with improper form.

When a disc herniates, the jelly contents of the disc bulge or leak out and push on very sensitive spinal nerves causing irritation and pain.

What is a minimally invasive discectomy?

A minimally invasive microdiscectomy is a common, very successful surgery employed to treat a herniated disc. It involves removal of the affected disc through a small incision using an 18mm tube the size of a nickel. Compared to an open discectomy, these smaller incisions reduce damage to surrounding muscles, involve almost no bleeding, and allow for a shorter recovery time.

When is a minimally invasive discectomy performed?

Minimally invasive discectomy is a highly effective treatment for a first-time or recurrent herniated disc.

Who is a candidate for minimally invasive discectomy?

A thorough discussion with Dr. Singh and imaging work-up will help to determine who would benefit from the procedure. Possible candidates are patients who:

  • Had no symptom improvement with non-surgical treatment
  • Persistent back and leg pain with a bulging disc noted on the MRI

How is a minimally invasive discectomy performed?

Dr. Singh makes a nickel-sized incision in the back and inserts a tubular retractor (a thin cylinder through which surgical instruments can be passed to get to the herniated disc). The tubular retractor minimizes tissue trauma, unlike open surgery which involves physically cutting the muscles.  Dr. Singh then passes special surgical tools through the retractor to remove a part of the bulging disc. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes and patients go home within a few hours after the surgery.

Schedule a consultation

If you or a loved has back or neck pain, contact Chicago spine surgeon Dr. Kern Singh who can assess your situation, provide an accurate diagnosis and guide you on the most suitable treatment options.

Dr. Kern Singh, MD is an internationally renowned spine surgeon specializing in outpatient minimally invasive and motion-preserving techniques and endoscopic spine surgery at Midwest Orthopedics at RUSH and Professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at RUSH University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Kern Singh is one of the nation’s Top 100 spine surgeons and beloved by his patients for his compassionate care and excellent outcomes. He welcomes nationally and internationally-based patients.


  • https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/minimally-invasive-spine-surgery/
At A Glance

Dr. Kern Singh

  • Minimally invasive and endoscopic spine surgeon
  • Inventor and surgeon innovator with multiple patents in spinal surgery and instrumentation
  • Author of more than 10 textbooks in minimally invasive spinal surgery
  • Learn more

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