Artificial Disc Replacement vs. Microdiscectomy

Category: Minimally Invasive Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

total disc replacementSpine surgery is a complex discipline with various procedures and terms that can be difficult to keep straight for an untrained person. The primary purpose of this blog is to educate patients and clear up any confusion about spine surgery by explaining the ins and outs of spine surgery in a way that does not require a medical degree to comprehend. In today’s blog we will break down the similarities and differences between two common spine surgery procedures – the artificial spinal disc replacement and the microdiscectomy. Read on to learn more about these two minimally invasive surgeries.

Artificial Disc Replacement

In an artificial disc replacement, a spinal disc is removed and replaced with an artificial disc. This is usually done when the existing disc has degenerated beyond repair and is posing a threat to the surrounding structures (nerves, vertebrae, etc.). Recently this has become a more popular alternative to spinal fusion surgery (read about the pros and cons here).

For more in-depth information on the artificial disc replacement procedure, visit this page on our site.


A microdiscectomy involves surgically removing part of a vertebra or disc that is impeding on a spinal nerve root. This is done to decompress and free up the nerve. Microdiscectomies are often performed when a patient has a herniated or slipped spinal disc, or when the nerve root is otherwise being compressed. This surgery has a very high success rate (above 90%).

Similarities & Differences

Both of these procedures consist of removing an element from the spinal column (whether it’s a partial disc, a full disc, or a piece of bone). Both have the ultimate goal of relieving pain and preventing nerve damage and improving overall spine health. Choosing the specific procedure depends on the patient’s individual case. Your spine surgeon will go through all the benefits and risks of each procedure so you can make the best decision possible.

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