Medical Q&As

Crushed discs - operable?

I have two crushed discs in my back and I was told that I could not have them operated on. Is this true?

Each vertebral disc is lodged securely between two vertebrae and is largely inaccessible. If you have access to an anatomical drawing or model of the spine you will see that the disc is located anterior to the spinal cord. In order to get at the disc the surgeon would have to get around the intervening obstacle of the spinal cord. Surgeons can remove extruding portions of disc such as occurs in the classic case of slipped disc but I am not aware of any technique that involves the removal of the whole disc. Spinal surgery is technically very difficult and there are many delicate structures in the way that restrict the surgeonís ability to properly expose the area that is causing the patientís problem. To further complicate matters some areas of the spine, such as the cervical spine or neck part of the spine, are even more risky to operate on. I think you have been given a correct opinion regarding the appropriateness of surgery in your case.