To alleviate the pain of a ruptured or herniated intervetebral disc (see Spinal Anatomy), a Laminotomy/Microdiscetomy may be performed. This surgical procedure is carried out in two steps beginning with the laminotomy. Lamina is the Latin name given to the bone protecting the spinal canal, and otomy means opening or hole. The laminotomy simply opens up the spinal canal in order to visualize the pinched nerve root.
Once this is accomplished, the second procedure, the microdiscetomy, is performed. A high powered stereoscopic microscope is used to provide illumination and magnification to allow the nerve and surrounding structures to be visualized clearly through an incision less than one inch long. The nerve root is carefully protected with a specialized retractor, and protruding disc fragments, along with any remaining loose or degenerated disc material, are then removed. The small hole left in the annulus will regenerate in 4 to 6 weeks and fill in with new disc material.