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Endoscopic discectomy is a true state of the art minimally invasive procedure that will shrink the size of an enlarged (herniated) disc. A needle is inserted through the skin and a camera is placed inside it along with micro surgical instruments. These are used to remove herniated disc material that is causing pain in the lower back and legs (lumbar), mid back (thoracic), or neck and arms (cervical). Disc material can be removed from the spinal canal if you have a disc fragment, or it can be removed from the disc itself to shrink the size of the disc, much like taking the air out of a balloon.The Richard Wolf spinal equipment is used to perform this procedure.


Endoscopic Discectomy is a procedure used to remove nuclear material from the inside of a spinal Disc, or inside the spinal canal. In most cases, either a fragment of nuclear material is removed from the spinal canal, or disc material is removed from the disc itself, similar to removing air from a balloon to shrink the disc size, and thus moving the disc off of a pinched nerve. It is a minimally invasive technique that unlike the conventional procedure does not involve major tissue injury. Instead, a small metal tube, the size of a pencil, is inserted into the herniated disc space under x-ray guidance. The tube serves as a passage for the surgical tools and a tiny camera (endoscope). Under the guidance of real-time x-ray image (fluoroscopy) and a magnified live video feed, the fragment of the disc pinching the nerve is removed. Other structures that are causing damage such a bone or ligaments can also be removed to stop the nerves from causing pain, numbness, or weakness.

You may be a candidate for discectomy if your symptoms include pain, numbness, or weakness of the back and/or legs which match and are confirmed by MRI, or CT Scan, that shows disc or ligaments that are pinching your nerves.

Endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure with very little blood loss, tissue damage or scar formation. It has a short recovery period with patients usually going home the same day.

Discectomy is generally a safe procedure. But as with any interventional procedure, it carries a small risk of potential complications such as bleeding, infection, spinal headache, and injury to blood vessels or nerves around the spine.

This is a complex, yet simplistic, procedure created in Germany.

As always, it is best to speak to your pain doctor to see if this procedure is right for your specific diagnosis.


Endoscopic Discectomy - Post Operative Instructions

Incision Care: If there is a dressing, you may remove it on the morning after surgery BEFORE your shower. If Surgical Glue is used expect it will slowly peel off within 14 days. Please call us with any changes or concerns such as: redness, swelling or drainage at incision site, or temperature greater than 101°. (Clear liquid drainage in the first 24 hours is normal).

Bathing: You may shower the morning or afternoon after surgery after the dressing is removed; avoid scrubbing the incision site for the first 5 days. No baths or swimming until approved by the physician or physician assistant at your follow up appointment.

Restrictions: For the first week, no sitting upright. To be clear, you can stand or lay down, just not sit upright until day 7. A recliner is fine to sit in, even if upright since it is naturally padded and tips back normally.

For 1 months after surgery:

  • No leaning over (use a stick grabber if needed)

  • No strenuous activity

  • No lifting greater than 10lbs

Exercise: Increase your light activity each day, such as walking, as tolerated.

Driving: You may drive 14 days after the procedure if you feel okay to do so. Do not drive if you are taking pain medications.

Diet: Eat a healthy diet to promote healing.

Smoking: Avoid smoking. Smoking decreases the rate of bone and skin healing and also interferes with the effectiveness of pain medication.

Follow-Up: Your doctor may have ordered a brace for you to wear. This is to be worn when up and walking. It is not needed when sitting, laying, nor sleeping. You will have a post-operative appointment approximately 2 weeks after surgery.

Michigan Pain Specialists

back and neck pain relief

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