How endoscopic spine surgery is performed
During an endoscopic procedure, the spine surgeon makes a small incision through which a thin wire is inserted. Under x-ray guidance, the wire is carefully advanced to the portion of the spine that is causing pain. Next, the surgeon places several dilating tubes over the wire 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 single stitch beneath the skin and a small bandage is all that is needed over the site of the surgery.