What is endoscopic spine surgery?
Endoscopic spine surgery is a surgical technique used to remove pressure from spinal nerves. During ESS, the surgeon views the spine through a narrow camera (called an endoscope) placed through an incision less than a centimeter in length. Specialized instruments are then inserted through the endoscope and used to remove herniated discs, bone spurs, and other causes of spinal stenosis. Traditional spine surgery can also treat these conditions; however, endoscopic spine surgery is the least invasive surgical technique.
Who is a candidate for endoscopic spine surgery?
Most people who have spinal conditions will be able to manage them without surgery, but in some cases your doctor may recommend spine surgery if you have a condition that hasn’t been addressed by conservative efforts such as medication, lifestyle changes or injections. Spine surgery should be reserved as a last resort after all other treatment options have been considered. Endoscopic spine surgery can be used to address herniated or bulging discs, spinal stenosis or compressed nerves in the spine that can cause pain, numbness, and or weakness in the extremities (i.e., arms or legs). ESS can be utilized in the neck or back.
How is endoscopic spine surgery performed?
During an endoscopic procedure, the spine surgeon makes a small incision through which several dilating tubes are placed to temporarily spread the tissues apart. A hollow tubular retractor approximately the diameter of a pencil is then inserted over the dilators and wire, which are then removed.
A small camera with a built-in light source is placed through the tubular retractor. The spine and other tissues are viewed by the surgeon on a high-definition display monitor. Surgical instruments, simultaneously placed through the same tube, can then be used to remove any pressure from the affected nerve(s). This may involve resection of herniated disc material and/or bone spurs. By the end of the procedure, all sources of nerve compression are eliminated.
The camera, instruments, and tubular retractor are then removed, and the muscles and other soft tissues return to their normal positions. A stitch beneath the skin and a small bandage is all that is needed over the site of the surgery.
Recovery after endoscopic spine surgery
Endoscopic spine surgery typically takes about an hour to perform. Most patients are discharged to go home within a couple hours after the surgery.
“Patients go home the day of surgery,” Dr. Derman, an endoscopic spine surgeon physician on the medical staff said. “Very little pain medication is necessary; in fact, I often have patients who just take Tylenol or even nothing after the procedure. Patients can be active as soon as they feel comfortable doing so, even on the day of surgery. Walking, stationary bike, and other low impact activities are good options in the days and weeks after surgery. I had one patient recently who told me she was at the gym on the elliptical less than 24 hours after her spine surgery, which is pretty incredible.”
Benefits of endoscopic spine surgery
Some of the reasons why you should choose endoscopic spine surgery include:
- Outpatient procedure
- Shorter recovery time and quicker return to daily activities, including work and play
- Small incision (less than a centimeter)
- Less postoperative pain and pain medications
- Local anesthesia with sedation, rather than general anesthesia, may be used
- Minimal blood loss during surgery
- Reduced risk of infection
- Avoid fusion in certain circumstances in which it would be otherwise be necessary
Endoscopic Spine Surgery in Texas
Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery is an award-winning surgical hospital. If you are suffering from a spinal condition and want to know if endoscopic spine surgery is right for you, take our online assessment to see if you could be a candidate.