In his latest installment to the Total Spine series of instructional videos, Dr. Paul McCormick describes retropleural thoracotomy, a surgical technique used to treat complex spinal conditions of the thoracic and lumbar spine. “Retropleural thoracotomy is an important...
Bulging = swollen, protruding
Between each set of vertebrae, or bones of the spine, is a fibrous disc with a jelly-like core. These discs cushion the vertebrae and promote flexibility of the spine, which is required for performing normal activities of daily living.
A bulging disc is a condition in which the outer layer of the disc forms a bubble that “bulges” outward. This bulge may compress the spinal cord and nearby nerves.
A bulging disc can occur at any spinal level: cervical (neck), thoracic (upper and mid-back), and lumbar (lower back).
Under continued pressure, the outer wall of the disc may rupture. This is a condition known as a herniated disc
A bulging disc that compresses the spinal cord or nearby nerves may cause pain, numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, legs or feet. Exact symptoms depend on the exact location of the problem.
|Causes and Risk Factors|
Bulging discs are usually a result of degenerative disc disease. Disc degeneration is a natural process in which spinal discs gradually thin and dry out. The fibrous outer layer loses some of its strength and flexibility.
|Tests and Diagnosis|
In many cases, a diagnosis can be made on the basis of a thorough medical examination. However, the following imaging studies can help rule out other problems or provide more information about the disc’s effects on the spinal cord or nearby spinal nerves:
Bulging discs are often treated with nonoperative measures such as pain medications and physical therapy. However, if the bulging disc compresses the spinal cord, surgical treatment may be necessary.
A microdiscectomy is one surgical option. This is a minimally invasive procedure in which a neurosurgeon removes part of a damaged disc through a very small incision. This procedure is usually performed in the neck or low back. A microdiscectomy in the neck is called a cervical microdiscectomy, while the same procedure in the low back is called a lumbar microdiscectomy.
If a disc is so damaged that it must be replaced, the surgeon may perform an artificial disc replacement, also known as arthroplasty.
|Preparing for Your Appointment|
Drs. Paul C. McCormick, Michael G. Kaiser, Peter D. Angevine, Alfred T. Ogden and Christopher E. Mandigo are experts in treating bulging discs. Each can also offer you a second opinion.
Helpful Surgery Overviews
Dr. McCormick will choose the treatment method specific to each patient and situation. Some of the condition’s treatment options may be listed below.
As a public service to its readers, New York Magazine annually publishes its roster of Best Doctors, arranged by specialty, from communities in the New York City metropolitan area. For the 16th year in a row, Dr. Paul C. McCormick has made this prestigious list in the...
Dr. Paul McCormick Once Again Invited to Speak Before International Gathering of Spinal Neurosurgeons
Lifelong learning is an essential aspect of spinal neurosurgery. Indeed, the top spinal neurosurgeons keep avidly up to date with the frontiers of their field, while also achieving an unprecedented depth of knowledge in their field. Dr. Paul McCormick is exactly that...