Endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive surgery performed to remove a herniated disc from the spinal canal. When a disc herniation occurs, a fragment of the normal spinal disc is dislodged. This fragment may press against the spinal cord or the nerves that surround the spinal cord. Removing the disc will relieve nerve pressure and provide immediate pain relief.
How is Endoscopic Discectomy Performed?
First, the patient is put under conscious sedation. An endoscope, which is a small tube with a camera, is inserted through a keyhole incision that is made in the area of the herniated disc. If the disc bulge or annular tear is small, the surgeon treats the problematic disc with a laser; otherwise, the disc fragment can be removed through a small incision with the help of the endoscopic tube. After the damaged fragment is removed, a laser vaporizes the affected area, and then the remaining disc can be reshaped. Depending on the condition of the remaining disc, more disc fragments may be removed in order to prevent further herniation. Once the disc has been cleaned out from the area around the nerves, the incision is closed and a bandage is applied.
What should be expected?
The procedure takes approximately one hour, depending on the extent of the disc herniation, the size of the patient, and other factors. Patients often experience immediate relief from their pain after the procedure; however, it is common for symptoms to take several weeks to slowly dissipate. It is also common for patients to experience pain around the incision. A lumbar corset brace may be used to help with some symptoms of pain, but is not necessary in all cases. Patients are usually discharged on the same day of the procedure and gentle activities such as sitting upright and walking are encouraged after surgery. Patients must avoid lifting heavy objects, and should try not to bend or twist the back excessively. Patients should avoid strenuous activity or exercise until cleared by the doctor. Overall, patients experience far less trauma and risk, and are able to return to their daily life sooner.