Endoscopic Discectomy Spine Surgery

Michigan Pain Specialists

Pain Management serving the areas of Ann Arbor, MI, Ypsilanti, MI & Adrian, MI. Now accepting Telehealth appointments.

If you’re part of the 80% of American adults who experience back pain, it could be due to a herniated disc. The pain management experts at Michigan Pain Specialists in Ypsilanti and Adrian, Michigan, offer innovative procedures such as endoscopic discectomy to treat herniated discs in your lower spine, relieve your pain, and help you get back to your regular activities. Call Michigan Pain Specialists or schedule a consultation online for expert, personalized treatments for lower back pain.

Endoscopic Discectomy Q & A

What is a endoscopic discectomy?

A endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure to relieve pressure on a spinal nerve caused by a herniated disc. The Michigan Pain Specialists team uses cutting-edge surgical techniques to access and view your spine. 

Why would I need a endoscopic discectomy?

The team at Michigan Pain Specialists might recommend a endoscopic discectomy when other non-invasive treatments haven’t relieved a herniated disc in your lower spine.

You have discs between each of your vertebrae that cushion your bones and allow you to bend and twist your spine. Those discs consist of a soft gel interior encased in a rubbery outer shell.

A herniated disc occurs when the inside of a disc pushes through a small tear or weak spot in the shell. The bulging disc can compress a spinal nerve causing back pain as well as other symptoms that shoot through one or both of your legs.

What happens during an endoscopic discectomy?

If your physician determines that a endoscopic discectomy is the right procedure for you, they begin by preparing you for the surgery. The team carefully cleans your back and provides intravenous anesthesia so you can sleep through the surgery.

Your physician uses fluoroscopy — a special type of X-ray — to confirm the location of your herniated disc. They make a tiny incision in your back and use fluoroscopy to guide a hollow needle called a cannula into the correct part of your spine. 

They also insert a dilator device to create a small amount of space between your vertebrae and an endoscope, which sends a video from inside your spine to a monitor in the treatment room. 

Your doctor uses the endoscope to see your spine and guide the rest of the procedure. They use special tools to remove the herniated part of your disc and relieve the pressure on your spinal nerves. 

What should I expect after an endoscopic discectomy?

You spend a short amount of time in a recovery area as your anesthesia wears off. Your doctor wil discuss what he found in surgery with you, and also provide aftercare advice and releasing you to recover at home. 

While you might have some post-surgical pain, your herniated disc pain should subside over the next 2-3 weeks. If you had numbness or tingling sensations, you might need several weeks or months for those symptoms to disappear. 

If you have severe lower back pain or sciatica symptoms, call Michigan Pain Specialists or make an appointment online today for advanced treatments. 


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 by the Richard Wolf Company.


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.