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  • Herniated/Ruptured disc, what is the difference when it comes to surgery

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    Old 08-20-2003, 09:23 AM   #1
    ChristinaD's Avatar
    Join Date: Aug 2002
    Location: PA United States
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    ChristinaD HB User
    Post Herniated/Ruptured disc, what is the difference when it comes to surgery

    This is a hard question to explain but I'll try.
    First of all, do they put on MRI reports 'ruptured disc or is it always just 'herniated disc'. So many doctors say its all the same thing. If they are doing a surgery on a ruptured disc I understand that. They are taking the ruptured piece away. If it is surgery on a herniated disc then wouldn't that leave it "open" to rupturing. Or is it all the same????????
    So many people have surgery on herniated discs and that is what I am scheduled for because it is pressing on my nerve but if it isn't ruptured (if its not the same thing) then wouldn't cutting off the herniation leave it open and then the middle of the disc will have somewhere to go.........out......then you have a rupture.
    My doctor says he is removing the ruptured disc but my MRI says that its a herniation. Is it the same thing?? I'm pretty sure there is a difference but I would think cutting part of the disc off would make it easier blow out!
    I'm so confused!

    27 years old
    1993: T1 to L1 fusion due to scoliosis at age 17
    2000: Tore and ruptured L4 L5 & L5 S1-it finally got better after about a year. Did really well for about a year.
    June 2002: Had a relapse and tore/ruptured disc again.
    Now I'm 14 months into it and the pain is still there.
    Can't deal with it anymore so I'm having a discectomy in Sept. Hoping and praying that it takes care of my problems!!

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    Old 08-24-2003, 09:42 PM   #2
    goldesq's Avatar
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    Location: Brooklyn, NY, US
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    A herniated disc is the same as a ruptured disc. I hate to use this analogy but think of a disc as a pimple and when it ruptures or herniates, the stuff inside (disc matter) oozes out. If your MRI report insicates there is a herniation with compression on the thecal sac/nerve root then that means the disc matter is pushing/compressing againt your nerve(s) causing you to feel pain. When you have surgery, your surgeon will remove the disc matter that has herniated/ozzed out and is pushing against your nerve(s). When the disc matter is surgically removed, VOILA, no compression and homefully, no pain

    Old 08-25-2003, 01:46 PM   #3
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    MarianJ's Avatar
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    Hello Christina,

    Here is explanation that I found on the web. Basically it is just as goldesq said.

    What is a herniated disc?

    The bones that form the spine in your back are cushioned by small discs. These discs are round and flat, with a tough, outer shell (capsule or anulus) that surrounds a jellylike material, called the nucleus.

    When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. When these discs are damaged from an injury, normal wear and tear, or disease, they may bulge or break open (rupture). When a disc bulges or ruptures, it is called a herniated disc, or sometimes a slipped or ruptured disc.

    Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine. More than 90% of herniated discs affect the lower back (lumbar spine). The remainder occur in the neck (cervical spine) and rarely in the upper back (thoracic spine).

    Take Care.

    Lumbar MRI 10/02
    Lumbar Lordosis
    L5-S1 disc herniation with moderate thecal sac deformity.
    L4-5 disc desiccation with bulge which results in mild thecal sac deformity and mild bilateral foraminal stenosis.
    L2-3 disc desiccation with Schmorl’s nodule of L3.
    Lumbar Epidural 1/30/03
    Lumbar Epidural 2/12/03
    Lumbar Epidural 2/26/03
    Lumbar Discogram 5/23/03
    Lumbar CatScan 5/23/03
    Posterior Fusion & Infuse on L4,L5,S1 6/30/03
    Cervical MRI 10/02
    Loss of cervical lordosis with reversal of the curvature.
    C4-5 and C6-7 disc bulges resulting in flattening of the ventral margin of the cord.
    C5-6 there is a left foraminal herniation which results in moderate foraminal stenosis In addition, there is flattening of the ventral margin of the cord due to bulging disc.
    Cervical Epidural 5/19/03

    Old 08-26-2003, 10:53 AM   #4
    Join Date: Apr 2003
    Location: Ohio
    Posts: 747
    mokita HB User


    I hate the "ruptured vs herniated vs torn" discs. It IS so confusing. I've seen so many explanations....sometimes it gets me even more confused if that's at all possible!!!lol

    I think that ruptured is more of a laymen's term and Herniated is what you'll see on an MRI report. But...if you have any questions - be sure to ask the doc to "explain it like you're 10 yrs old!" That ought to get them down to earth! As for the herniation - there are contained and non-contained as well. I've read alot about it....but, can't recall right off the dif. I have a bulge in L4-L5 which measures 3mm. That's what it says on MRI. Then, when I had discogram - it shows a tear @ L4 which is leaking. So - I wonder what I have???Hmmmm.

    Ok....hope I helped some and didn't confuse too much.Take good care!


    9/22/00 24 hour labor, baby posterior, left tailbone killing me
    12/00 MRI -normal-but pain still-began taking vicodin
    2/8/02 - 2nd baby born - Csection-healthy girl
    2000-11/02 various PT + pain meds
    11/02 Referred to Neuro
    3/03 NEW MRI - slight bulge L3-L4, DDD, neural foramen,Superior aspect S1 and L5 Nerve root involvement-Neuro Refers to PM for ESI's
    (2 Rt Transforaminal,1 lumbosacral,3rd one numbed tailbone little
    5/9 - Discogram - shows Tear L4 w/ significant leak onto nerves, DDD
    Performing doc oversedated, False Negative
    7/8- Dept Head ClCl consult
    7/28 - ClevelClinic for Facet Injection, changed to Caudal Epidural after seeing xray of displaced coccyx;also,coccygeal manipulation
    8/12 - 2nd caudal inj/no coccyx manip
    8/14 -coccyx manip AGAIN
    9/25 sched appt to begin tx on Disc Tear @ ClevelClinic

    [This message has been edited by mokita (edited 08-26-2003).]

    [This message has been edited by mokita (edited 08-28-2003).]

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