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Understanding the problem

Disc extrusion is a general term that describes a damaged disc moving out of the natural alignment of the spine. This can be caused by several degenerative disc conditions, including a herniated disc or bulging disc.

Disc damage usually develops over time as the components of the spine weaken and compress. This is often due to the natural degeneration of the spine that compounds with added weight and repetitive motion. As these risks come together to compress the vertebrae and discs, a disc may undergo enough pressure to make it flatten between the vertebrae and expand into the spinal canal. This is called disc extrusion.

Understanding who suffers

The vertebrae in the spine are cushioned and separated by thick, spongy discs that consist of a tough, fibrous outer shell and a gel-like inner nucleus material. Over the years, these discs are subjected to an extreme amount of wear and tear and the walls of the discs can weaken and become brittle. Eventually, tears may develop in the walls of a disc, allowing the nucleus material to extrude into the spinal column, potentially compressing a spinal nerve.

Potential Signs and Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of disc extrusion and nerve compression include:

  • Stiffness or soreness
  • Pain at the site of nerve compression in the neck or back
  • Unexpected muscle weakness
  • Pain that travels along the compressed nerve
  • A burning or pins-and-needles feeling
  • Numbness or tingling
Examinations Usually Required

The location of the extruded disc is often a main determinant of the cause of the condition. For example, degenerative disc damage often occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back) or cervical spine (neck), while an injury or illness can sometimes cause disc damage in the thoracic spine (middle back). Specialists can determine the location and cause of the condition through physical examination and, if necessary, medical imaging like an MRI test or CT scan.

Proposing Treatment and Why AIMIS

Following the diagnosis of a disc extrusion, conservative non-surgical treatment will initially be proposed. If conservative treatment fails to provide relief, your physician might recommend surgery. Treatments can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and how much they limit your everyday activities and your level of pain.

AIMIS is an expert in spine surgery and can provide minimally invasive procedures for disc extrusion and can review and propose your type and course of treatment.

  • Laminotomy - removal of a portion of the lamina, the smooth layer of bone near the top of the vertebral arch. The procedure opens up space in the spinal canal to take pressure off of nerves that have been affected by extruded disc material
  • Foraminotomy –involves clearing out and opening up a foramen (a small opening between vertebrae that allow nerve roots to exit the spinal canal to the rest of the body. This procedure can treat situations where a bulging or extruded disc has caused foraminal narrowing and compressed nerve roots, causing painful symptoms.
  • Discectomy and minimally invasive stabilization - involves partial removal of a damaged disc that is causing symptoms. By way of this removal, pain can be alleviated, as well as the potential weakness and numbness caused by its pressure on a surrounding nerve. In some severe cases of disc degeneration, the entire disc needs to be removed from the spinal column and a minimally invasive stabilization procedure otherwise known as spinal fusion, to keep the spine as stable as possible by grafting together two adjacent vertebrae.

For a variety of cases there are a range of treatment options which AIMIS perform and include:

  • Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Fusion Surgery,
  • Minimally Invasive Stabilization Surgery Discectomy
  • Micro-Discectomy
  • Discectomy,
  • Micro-Discectomy,
  • Micro-Decompression,
  • Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery,
  • Total Disk Replacement (TDR),
  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion,
  • Decompressor Discectomy,
  • Lumbar Disc Microsurgery Treatment
  • AxiaLIF or Axial Lumbar Interbody Fusion
  • Stem cell transplantation – see page on Degenerative Disc Disease for more information

Why minimally invasive spine surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery was developed to treat spine problems with less injury to the muscles and other normal structures in the spine. It also assists the surgeon to see where the problem exists in the spine. Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), does not involve a long incision as is open surgery which helps to avoid damage to the muscles surrounding the spine. In most cases, this results in less pain after surgery and a significant faster recovery.

Spine surgery is normally recommended once a period of nonsurgical treatment likely including medications and physical therapy has not provided pain relief caused by the back problem. Surgery is considered when the source of your pain and underlying cause can be identified and surgical procedure proposed. Minimally invasive techniques today are common and being used for a wide range of spine procedures.

Benefits of minimal invasive spine surgery include:

  • Small incisions
  • Less pain. Often less pain than open procedures because less of the natural anatomy is disrupted
  • Shorter Hospital stay
  • Quicker return to daily activities
  • Lower infection and complication rate
  • Less blood loss. Smaller incisions also mean less blood loss, which can ultimately improve outcomes.

Minimally invasive procedures take a surgery that could be a dramatic event and makes it have less of an impact!

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Reputable and Prestigious Surgeons

AIMIS' skilled team of neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and ancillary professionals has one of the leading experiences in the world for minimally invasive spine surgery. Our full team are consulted with each case to find the most suitable experienced doctor for the patient’s exact issue, to ensure the maximum potential outcome of treatment

Getting More Information Before Moving Forward
You may have questions like:
  • Can I get more information before I commit to this?
  • Can I get a second opinion from you before I commit to this?
  • How can I find out the cost before I have any obligation?
What AIMIS Can do:

AIMIS will provide a full review, diagnosis and potential surgical options for your condition, after receiving the relevant examinations and information from you. They will also provide an estimate for your surgical procedure before you decide. AIMIS’s mission is to the provision of “true” healthcare for those who require it. It provides world leading surgeons using state of the art procedures to optimize potential surgical outcomes, whilst taking care of all arrangements so as to allow concentration on recovery.


AIMIS provide competitive prices for state of the art procedures. We also work with a large range of Insurance companies where your policy allows you to have surgery abroad.

Further information on the problem:

The location of a damaged disc can often be determined based on the area of the symptoms of pain and discomfort. Because a disc extrusion only causes pain when a nerve root is compressed, the symptoms that travel along that nerve pathway will help a physician locate the source of the condition. For example, nerve pathways near the spine often send signals between the spine and the extremities. The location of the nerve root varies the extremity affected by the nerve pathway. Here are some examples of nerve pathways in the different areas of the spine:

  • Cervical spine — shoulders, elbows, biceps, triceps, forearms, hands, fingers
  • Thoracic spine — abdomen, chest, internal organs
  • Lumbar spine — lower back, hips, buttocks, thighs, legs, knees, feet, toes
  • Sacral spine/coccyx — tailbone, pelvis, reproductive organs
Further Information on Increased Risk Groups

Although the most common cause of a disc extrusion is the natural weakening of the spine over time, there are several disc extrusion risk factors that can be avoided by simply practicing healthy spine habits.

Over the years, natural wear and tear on the spine — joints, bones, discs, ligaments, etc. — causes degeneration. The discs, in particular, are affected by the natural aging process. Discs are the support cushions for the vertebrae of the spine, resting between each set of vertebrae and allowing them to bend and move without colliding. As certain factors of age occur, including repetitive motion, disc dehydration and weight gain, the discs begin to lose their height and elasticity, making them prone to damage.

When a disc extrudes, it can flatten under the pressure of the surrounding vertebrae and expand outward. In some cases, the discs may expand to the point that the elastic outer layer tears and inner disc material leaks into the spine.

Why AIMIS for this Surgery

AIMIS strives for excellence in delivering the best surgical outcomes, via the extensive expertise of its prestige surgeons, its technologies, its highly trained staff and superior facilities to provide an individualized and compassionate experience in a comfortable environment. All patients are treated with the individual care they deserve in an effort to provide the best chance of successful treatment.

Other Services Provided by AIMIS

In addition to its Innovative Healthcare, AIMIS provides seamless service along the way. From the start of your journey you'll know the best flights to take, where you'll be staying, what paperwork you will need. You will have a personal assistant assigned; from your pick up at the airport, to your accommodation, continuous assistance at your pre-consultation, through surgery and in your postsurgical care. Our Patients have said that they feel they have become "part of our family" and some even asked to stay a little longer! AIMIS is here to assist you in an all you requirements, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.