Answers to your questions
How do I know if I'm a candidate for endoscopic spine surgery?
Endoscopic spine surgery is frequently used for conditions in the lumbar spine (low back) and cervical spine (neck) that cause arm or leg pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and heaviness. While back pain or neck pain may be improved, such surgeries are most effective for patients with significant symptoms in one or both legs/arms. Typical conditions include:
- Herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Bone spurs
While not all spinal issues are amenable to endoscopic techniques, your spine surgeon will evaluate your particular situation and develop a personalized treatment plan using the least invasive means possible.
Is this surgery suitable for any age group?
Lumbar endoscopic spine surgery or cervical endoscopic spine surgery can be a viable treatment option for adults of any age. The minimal downtime associated with these procedures means that patients can rapidly return to work and exercise. Older patients can similarly benefit as these surgeries are typically so small that there is no need for an overnight hospital stay or inpatient rehabilitation after surgery. In fact, some endoscopic spine procedures can be performed under sedation (i.e., “twilight” anesthesia) rather than general anesthesia, further minimizing risks.
How is endoscopic spine surgery different from other types of spine surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery represents a spectrum of techniques, with endoscopy being the least invasive of all. It offers numerous advantages over traditional “open” spine surgery, which generally involves larger incisions, more muscle damage, increased blood loss, longer hospital stays, opioid pain medications, and extended recovery.
What should I expect during and after surgery?
Endoscopic surgery can be performed using sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the type of procedure to be performed and patient preference. The entire procedure often takes less than an hour. Patients are up and walking around shortly thereafter and are discharged home the same day.
Recovery time will vary from patient to patient. However, most people experience substantial improvement in their symptoms immediately after surgery and describe the surgical site discomfort as more of a “soreness” than a significant pain. Opioid pain medications are not necessary after surgery, and many people take no pain medications at all. Patients typically find that they can resume most of their normal activities within a few days of surgery or even sooner.
What are the physician’s credentials?
The spine surgeons at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery are board-certified or board-eligible in orthopedic surgery or neurosurgery and have undergone fellowship training specifically in the field of spine surgery. Surgeons performing endoscopic spine procedures have also performed additional specialized training on these techniques.
The benefits of endoscopic spine surgery include:
- It’s an outpatient procedure. There’s no need to have a prolonged stay in hospital.
- Shorter recovery time and quicker return to daily activities, including work and play. As the procedure is minimally invasive, you’re able to recover more rapidly and get back to doing the things you love.
- A small incision (less than half an inch). Endoscopic surgery means less muscle damage which leads to faster recovery.
- Less postoperative pain and pain medications mean a quicker recovery time, with less overall discomfort.
- Local anesthesia with sedation, rather than general anesthesia, may be used.
- Minimal blood loss during surgery.
- Reduced risk of infection due to the minimally invasive surgery and smaller incision.
- It can allow patients to avoid spinal fusion in certain circumstances in which it would otherwise be necessary.