Endoscopic Spine Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery (abdominal surgery utilizing micro-sized incision and a tiny camera [endoscope] for visualization) and Arthroscopic surgery (like laparoscopic surgery but in musculoskeletal joints) are the gold standard for performing many general and orthopedic surgical procedures, respectively. These techniques became popular because of their associated minimal soft tissue injury and quicker recovery compared to traditional "open" approaches. 

Recently, advances in optics and intraoperative imaging have made Endoscopic surgery possible in the spine. Endoscopic Spine Surgery is the most advanced, state of the art, minimally invasive technique available. It is performed through a micro-sized incision (< 1 inch) to address a multitude of spinal pathologies that have failed to improve with non-surgical treatments. Furthermore, Endoscopic Spine Surgery utilizes a muscle splitting (in between muscle fibers, with minimal to no muscle injury) rather than muscle stripping approach (cutting through muscle fibers and causing significant muscle injury).

Some of the conditions that are amenable to Endoscopic Spinal Surgery includes; 1) Sciatica due to a disc herniation (shooting pain from the back into the legs due to a disc bulge in the spine),  2) Sciatica due to foraminal stenosis (shooting pain due to narrowing of the space the spinal nerves go through),  3) Neurogenic claudication due to spinal stenosis (back pain and leg heaviness that is worsened with standing and improves with sitting, due to narrowing of the space where several nerves go through).

Outcomes of endoscopic spine surgery are as good as those performed through a traditional approach. However, additional benefits associated with endoscopic spine surgery includes 1) smaller incisions, 2) less soft tissue injury, 3) less bony removal, 4) shorter surgical time, 5) quicker recovering, 6) less blood loss, 7) lower infection rates, and many more.

It is important to note the limitations of Endoscopic Spine Surgery. For example, it is not appropriate for deformity correction surgery, or tumors of the spine. Furthermore, it is highly specialized and has a steep learning curve. As a result, many Spine Surgeons do not perform Endoscopic Spinal surgery often enough to be proficient it.

Author
Dr. Kenneth Nwosu As a spine surgeon specializing in neck and lower back pain, Kenneth Nwosu, MD, is skilled in the cutting-edge techniques to address chronic pain and mobility issues caused by underlying spinal disease or injury. Dr. Nwosu believes in the many benefits that minimally invasive surgical techniques can offer his patients, including minimal hospitalization and expedient pain relief and return to an active lifestyle. He offers a variety of surgical options at his multidisciplinary spine practices in Burien and Puyallup, Washington.

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