An endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure in which a painful herniated disc is removed through a small tube using small instruments. The procedure is an out patient procedure usually performed under minimal to light sedation. The procedure is an alternative to a microscope assisted discectomy procedure and is similar in performance to arthroscopic surgery of the knee, for example. The incision is usually approximately 5 millimeters (0.5 centimeters). The typical approach is a more lateral than other approaches so there is less muscle manipulation which can lead to less post operative pain and a faster recovery.
The lateral approach also allows for access to other areas of the spine which can cause pain, such as the foramen when the nerve exits the spine. In these cases an endoscopic foraminotomy may be performed to expand the opening for the exiting impinged nerve root.
The procedure is performed in an outpatient surgical setting under light anesthesia. Special equipment is used including a fluoroscope (live time x-ray machine) and a monitor to view into the spine through the scope, and small instruments are used to remove the disc.
A small incision is made laterally (usually 10-14 cm from the center of the spine) and after local anesthetic is administered, the port, which is the size of a small pen chamber, is passed into the disc space near the disc herniations. Then a camera is inserted into the port along with instruments to take up the disc material. Under direct visualization, the disc material is removed and the now unimpinged nerve is visualized. When adequate tissues are removed, the tools are removed, a suture is placed under the skin and a bandage is placed.
If you are interested in an evaluation into the cause of your low back pain, or want to be evaluated for an endoscopic procedure to help you manage your pain, please contact our pain management experts at The Spine and Pain Institute of New York. Our offices in Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Long Island offer multiple convenient locations for you to be evaluated. We would be happy to make an appointment for a consultation and provide additional information about other treatment options.