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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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Herniated Disc Back Surgery: Discectomy

Herniated disc back surgery discectomy is often recommended for injured workers with serious neck or low back pain.  To get the best results employees seeking workers' compensation benefits represented by McCormick Law Office attorneys should be fully informed of their options by doctors.  This blog is a summary of surgical procedures in lay terms, a starting point, and not a substitute for medical advice. Wisconsin workers, particularly in the Milwaukee area, are fortunate to have the highest rated surgeons and hospitals for their workers compensation injury care and treatment.

For lumbar herniated discs, the two main discectomy procedures are laminotomy and discectomy or microdiscectomy.  Laminotomy and discectomy is the traditional method of removing the disc. Laminotomy is taking off part of the lamina bone (the back of the ring over the spinal canal). This allows greater room for the surgeon to take out part of the disc (discectomy).

Microdiscectomy is becoming the standard surgery for lumbar disc herniation putting pressure on a nerve root. It involves carefully taking out part of the problem disc (discectomy). By performing the operation with a surgical microscope, the surgeon only needs to make a very small incision in the low back. Categorized as minimally invasive surgery, this surgery is thought to prevents scarring around the nerves and joints, helping patients recover better.

For cervical herniated discs, discectomy is used to alleviate symptoms of a herniated disc by removing the portions of the disc putting pressure on either nerve roots or the spinal cord itself.  Discectomy is also commonly used when the surgeon plans to fuse the bones of two neck vertebrae into one solid bone. Most surgeons will take the disc out and replace the empty space with a block of bone graft, a procedure called cervical fusion.

Discectomy alone is sometimes used for younger patients (20 to 45 years old) whose symptoms are from herniation of the disc. But some surgeons think discectomy should always be combined with fusion of the bones above and below.  Inserting a bone block during fusion surgery helps keep pressure off the spinal nerves because the graft widens the neural foramina. The neural foramina are openings on each side of the vertebrae where nerves exit the spinal canal. Most research on discectomy by itself shows good short-term benefits compared to discectomy with fusion. But more information is needed about whether the long-term results are equally as good.

The lawyers at McCormick Law Office have worked with most of the neck and back surgeons in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, Racine and Kenosha counties.  We provide the surgeons medical records and obtain their opinions on causation (whether a back surgery is work-related) and permanency (disability percentage and any work restrictions).

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