Dr. Andrew Isaacs, DVM Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology) Dogwood Veterinary Referral Center

His primary interests include intervertebral disc disease, seizure management, luxations/fractures of the spine, and surgery for brain tumors
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Surgical removal of disc material
Friday, September 9, 2011

Sue asks: If they remove the disc, what do they do in the space where the disc was? Do they put in some kind of artificial “place holder”?
When a disk herniates only a small percentage of the intervertebral disk is involved.  The remainder of the disk material is still present and functioning as it should.  I think the confusion comes from hearing "we will remove the disk material".  The disk material that is removed is only the herniated component that is compressing the spinal cord.
Sharon wants to know:  Why don’t they remove all of the disc material so that it cannot rupture again in the future?
The disk material that has not ruptured is where it should be and is serving the function to help provide cushion between the vertebrae.  Therefore, we do not want to remove material that is helping serve a needed function.  Also, after recovery from the surgery (4-6 weeks) the chance of the same disk herniating is very low (because the disk is no longer under pressure - similar to a balloon that has air let out of it being less likely to pop compared to one that is fully inflated).

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