Endoscopic Spine Surgery

An ultra-minimally invasive solution for pain

Endoscopic spine surgery is emerging as an increasingly popular option for people seeking relief of pain caused by various back and neck conditions. Far less invasive than traditional surgical techniques, endoscopic spine surgery can be used to alleviate symptoms of sciatica and spinal stenosis caused by disc herniations and arthritic changes. Pain relief is often immediate, and recovery time is minimal when these advanced techniques are used.

How is endoscopic spine surgery performed?

Akin to having a shoulder or knee “scoped,” endoscopic spine surgery utilizes a small camera rather than a large open incision to safely access the spine. During an endoscopic procedure, a spine surgeon makes a small (i.e., less than a half-inch) incision through which a narrow camera with a built-in light source is placed. This camera is approximately the diameter of a pencil — small enough to access the spine with minimal impact on the overlying muscles and other soft tissues.  The spine and nerves are viewed by the surgeon on a large high-definition monitor in the operating room. Surgical instruments are placed through a hollow channel within the camera and used to address any sources of pressure on the affected nerve(s). This frequently involves resection of herniated disc material and/or bone spurs. 

By the end of the procedure, all sources of nerve compression have been eliminated. The camera and instruments are then removed, and the muscles and other soft tissues return to their normal positions. A stitch beneath the skin and a tiny bandage are all that are needed at the site of the surgery. 

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Could you be a candidate for endoscopic spine surgery?

Endoscopic spine surgery is an ultra-minimally invasive surgical procedure that can be used to help relieve pain, weakness, heaviness, and/or numbness in the arms or legs. Take our quick online assessment to see if you could be a candidate.

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. 

Benefits of endoscopic spine surgery

• 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

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Understand the risks 

While spine surgery can produce excellent outcomes, there are risks to any procedure.  Potential complications include surgical site infection, spinal fluid leak, and nerve damage (which can result in numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness). There are also general medical and anesthesia risks such as heart problems and blood clots. 

On rare occasions, during an endoscopic procedure, the planned surgical goals cannot be adequately met. This may require conversion to another minimally invasive technique or potentially a second trip to the operation room.

All of these risks can be discussed with your surgeon prior to the procedure. They’ll be able to outline the necessary information to help you to feel comfortable with undertaking surgery. 

Other procedures? 

In addition to endoscopic spine surgery, at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery, we’re also able to offer a variety of other surgical options to address back and neck-related pain issues too. Spinal fusion, discectomy, spinal cord stimulation, dynamic stabilization, and facet joint rhizotomy can all be carried out at our hospital. Additionally, our Center For Disc Replacement is also able to carry out total cervical disc replacement and total lumbar disc replacement. These procedures may be considered as alternative options if endoscopic spine surgery is not suitable for your particular condition.

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If you have additional questions about our spine services or would like more information about treatment options, please call our patient navigator at 972-543-1250 or

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