Several methods of discectomy are available to treat types of disc herniation. In the past, a large open incision was required for almost all spine procedures. Now large open incisions are utilized only when a discectomy is performed in combination with a larger procedure.

Microdiscectomy surgery for a herniated lumbar disc is traditionally performed through a one to two-inch incision. The muscle must is pulled aside and the opening between the bones is widened to allow access to the spinal canal. The herniated disc material is then removed.

Endoscopic microdiscectomy utilizes specialized retractors and x-rays to make a smaller incision through which the spine is approached. This allows the surgeon to use both the camera and the microscope to visualize the spine and spinal canal. Using specialized instruments, the surgeon can safely remove the herniated disc material. This procedure reduces local trauma disrupting muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues. This can mean less pain after surgery. This technique can often be done on an outpatient basis and many patients can return to work in just a few days.