Watkins Medical Centre
Level 8, 225 Wickham Terrace,
Spring Hill QLD, 4000

All appointments
Phone: (07) 3831 7034

What is the difference between a microdiscectomy and a discectomy ?

The short answer is nothing. They are the same operation. The term microdiscectomy means an operation performed using a microscope. It has also come to mean doing the operation using other forms of magnification such as loupes (magnifying lens systems attatched to spectacle frames). It does not mean a microscopic operation - rather that it is done under magnification. Neurosurgeons tend to use the term Microdiscectomy whereas Orthopaedic Surgeons tend to simply use the term discectomy. As long as your surgeon uses some form of magnification the operations are identical and are done really through the same sized (or nearly the same sized) incision. Properley randomized studies show no clinically relevant difference in outcome between performing the operation using a microscope or with loupes. The length of the incision when performing this operation varies according the the difficulty of the surgery though is typically between 20 - 40 mm. This does not qualify as 'Keyhole surgery'. The term keyhole surgey is usually used for a procedure such as an arthroscopy or a laparoscopy where an optical telescope is inserted into a cavity (sauch as a joint) these incisions are typically only a few mm long. True keyhole surgery for lumbar disc herniation has generally produced unsatisfactory outcomes.