Endoscopic Spine Surgery: What You Need to Know

Endoscopic Spine Surgery: What You Need to Know

An Overview

Endoscopic spine surgery is a minimally invasive spine procedure that relieves nerve compression. By inserting a series of tubes through a tiny incision, small surgical tools can pass through the body to the surgical site. One of those tubes has a camera at the tip, allowing the surgeon to view and monitor the site to perform the surgery.

At the Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders, Dr. Lewin performs endoscopic lumbar discectomy. He also performs several types of endoscopic lumbar fusion surgery:

  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion
  • Direct lateral interbody fusion (also known as extreme lateral interbody fusion)
  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion
  • Transforaminal interbody fusion

Why Consider Endoscopic Spine Surgery?

The goal of endoscopic spine surgery is to keep incision size to a minimum for faster healing, reduced pain and fewer post-op complications. This is in comparison to an open spine procedure that mandates a larger incision for better viewing of the surgical site. The necessary access requires splitting of tissue and bone.

For patients who would otherwise be unable to have surgery, an endoscopic spine surgery allows an alternative surgical treatment to relieve symptoms.

When to Consider Endoscopic Spine Surgery

Whether an endoscopic spine surgery should be performed is heavily dependent on the patient as each individual’s spine pathology is different. In addition, it’s only considered an option when all other traditional treatment methods have failed.

Conditions treated with this type of surgery include:

  • Degenerative disc disease: This is the natural breakdown of the spinal discs, the cushions between the vertebrae that give the spine its stability and flexibility.
  • Degenerative scoliosis: Also known as adult scoliosis, this abnormal curvature of the spine is usually secondary to another spinal condition, such as osteoporosis.
  • Herniated Disc: A condition in which the soft center of the spinal disc leaks through a crack in the tough exterior and puts pressure on a nerve or nerve roots.
  • Pseudarthrosis: Also known as a false joint, pseudarthrosis is a bone fracture with no chance of healing on its own without medical intervention.
  • Spinal stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal due to the degeneration of the facet joints and discs in the spine.
  • Spondyloitsthesis: This condition occurs when one vertebrae slips over the top of another, possibly resulting in a gradual deformity of the spine and a narrowing of the spinal canal.

What to Expect Before Surgery

Prior to the procedure the surgeon will perform a clinical assessment to determine candidacy for the surgery, including the use of diagnostic imaging. Patients may also be required to produce a list of medications. And smokers will be advised to stop smoking immediately (it drastically slows down the healing process of the spine).

Additionally, patients are asked to prepare for life at home following surgery by asking someone to temporarily aid in everyday tasks.

Post Surgery

Depending on the type, surgery may be performed in our affiliated surgery center, with patients able to go home the day of the procedure. Most patients recover and return to full activity within six weeks (depending on the specific procedure and individual). They may be asked to participate in a physical therapy program to aid in recovery.

Am I a Candidate?

While most spinal conditions may be treated with an endoscopic surgery approach, others such as high-degree scoliosis still require an open surgery to correct the problem. Only a specialist would know what’s right for you and your condition. To discuss whether you may be a candidate or to schedule a consultation, contact the Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders today.

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