A thoracic herniated disc in some injured workers on workers compensation may require surgery. If workers compensation is denied by an IME doctor, our office may represent the injured worker to get the thoracic herniated disc surgery covered by workers compensation and the temporary or permanent disability benefits paid to the injured worker.
Surgeons may recommend surgery if patients aren’t getting better with nonsurgical treatment, or if the problem is becoming more severe. When there are signs that the herniated disc is affecting the spinal cord, surgery may be required, sometimes urgently. The signs surgeons watch for when reaching this decision include weakening in the arm or leg muscles, pain that won’t ease up, and problems with the bowels or bladder.
Surgeons use costotransversectomy to open a window through the bones that cover the injured disc. Operating from the back of the spine, the surgeon takes out a small section on the end of two or more ribs where they connect to the spine. Then the bony knob on the side of the vertebra (the transverse process) is removed. This opens space for the surgeon to work. The injured portion of the disc that is pressing against the spinal cord is removed (discectomy) with small instruments.
Transthoracic decompression describes the approach through the chest cavity to reach the injured disc. This approach gives the surgeon a clear view of the disc. Instruments are placed through the opening, and the herniated part of the disc is taken out.
Video Assisted Thoracoscopy Surgery (VATS). Recent developments in thoracic surgery include video assisted thoracoscopy surgery (VATS). This procedure is done with a thoracoscope, a tiny television camera that can be inserted into the side of the thorax through a small incision. The camera allows the surgeon to see the area where he or she is working on a TV screen. Small incisions give passage for other instruments used during the surgery. VATS is thought to be less taxing on patients, prevents scarring around the nerves and joints, and helps patients recover more quickly.
After removing the disc, the spine may be loose and unstable. Fusion surgery may be needed. The medical term for fusion is arthrodesis. This procedure locks the vertebrae in place and stops movement between the vertebrae. This steadies the bones and can ease pain. In this procedure, the surgeon lays small grafts of bone over or between the loose spinal bones. Surgeons may use a combination of screws, cables, and rods to prevent the vertebrae from moving and allow the graft to heal.
[nap_names id=”FIRM-NAME-1″] attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin advocate for thoracic herniated disc workers compensation benefits when the injury happens on the job.