Overview
Laparoscopic surgery, also known as an endoscopic surgery of the spine, is a minimally invasive technique that has been perfected in the past two decades that enables surgeons to surgically repair or remove organs in the body through small incisions that result in fewer complications, surrounding tissue damage and faster healing times.

The laparoscopic approach enables the surgeon to make three to four small incisions (usually less than 1/4-inch in length) through which the laparoscope, a long, thin tube equipped with a camera at one and that enables the surgeon to view the surgical field on a monitor or screen in the operating room.

Vertebral discs are part of the spine. The spine is comprised of bones known as vertebra, which make up the spinal column and protect nerves that make up the spinal cord. Discs positioned between each of the vertebra act as cushions or sponges like shock absorbers and enable humans to twist, bend, and rotate.

Laparoscopic Discectomy Procedure
A discectomy is at its most basic definition, removal of a vertebral desk. A discectomy may be performed in the lumber, or lower back region, the thoracic, or middle back, and cervical or neck regions of the spine.

First performed in the early 1990s, two basic techniques for laparoscopic discectomy are commonly used:

  • Transperitoneal laparoscopy - the patient is placed on his back under general anesthesia. Three or four ports or incisions in addition to one near the belly button will be utilized for the discectomy procedure.
  • Retroperitoneal laparoscopy - the patient will be placed in a lateral decubitous position, which means the patient will lie on his side under local anesthesia, general and it's easier, or a sedation. This positioning also requires the use of endoscopy.

A discectomy involves the removal of herniated disc tissues that press on nerves or other portions of spinal cord. This type of procedure is very effective for individuals who have tried other options without relief and who experience and suffer from severe pain and difficulty walking, sitting, and other basic movements.

Who Benefits from a Discectomy Procedure?
Individuals with back or neck pain or pain that doesn't respond to conventional medical treatment may benefit from a laparoscopic discectomy. Those diagnosed with herniated discs are also prime candidates for the procedure.

How Much Does a Discectomy Cost?
Cost of laparoscopic discectomy procedures depend on location and approach. In the United States, any type of spine surgery is quite expensive, but locations such as those found in Western and Central Europe, Australia and South Korea may save patients thousands of dollars in costs, including hospital stay.  For example, an individual traveling to Costa Rica may spend approximately $12,000 on a cervical discectomy while a patient traveling to Thailand will spend approximately $8,000.  Travelers to Columbia, Poland, and hungry also spend an average of $9,500 for the procedure.

Who Performs Total Discectomy Procedures?
A discectomy procedure is generally performed by an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine care or neurosurgeon as well as a vascular or general surgeon. Surgeons should be chosen according to their expertise and experience in related fields. Physicians and surgeons should be certified in their field, and show membership in national or regional boards or associations in his or her country of origin. Consumers are encouraged to get more than one opinion before engaging in any type of spinal surgery, as well as making sure that facilities, surgeons, and healthcare staff are accredited by international associations and organizations to ensure quality of equipment, technology, as well as quality of care by medical staff.