Less-Invasive Disk Surgery

"You're such a good boy," said Karen Altieri. That is how she thinks it happened. She bent down to pick up her pooch Jeter, and "I felt something pull in my left leg."  It was just a little pain at first. But, within a year, Karen's leg pain became unbearable. "I cried a lot because I hurt all the time," romping with Jeter was out of the question. She couldn't even sit and enjoy a T-V show with her husband. Karen just hurt. "Tremendously painful." "A piece of disc material is pressing on the nerve," said Dr. Barry Birch, a Mayo Clinic Neurosurgeon. Dr. Birch and a team at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona helped relieve Karen's pain. He says a new, less-invasive method of repairing herniated discs helps make "Recovery a little less unpleasant, and patients get back to their routine quicker, and they typically don't have to stay in the hospital," said Dr. Birch. Conventional surgery involves making a large incision in the back or neck and moving muscle so the surgeon can get to the injury. The new approach is much easier on the patient. First the surgeon makes a small incision. Then he inserts a tube through the muscle to the site of the herniated or bulging disc. The tube gives the doctor a pathway to the spine so he can use tiny instruments to repair the disc without damaging muscle. Karen was a little stiff after surgery, but, her leg pain went away almost immediately. "I don't hurt anymore now," said Karen. Pain free for the first time in a year.