Dr. Chad Campion from Campbell Clinic joins Amy Speropoulos for 3 Good Minutes to share some information about endoscopic surgery. Watch the video above or read this summary below.

What is endoscopic spine surgery?

Endoscopic spine surgery is an ultra-minimally invasive technique to alleviate pressure on nerves in the back or neck. It’s used to treat things like sciatica or radiculopathy. These are conditions where usually a disc bulge, or herniation, presses on a nerve and causes pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.

Traditionally, these disc bulges were treated with an open surgery, where a 2-3 cm or larger incision is made, bone and ligaments of the back are drill or removed to gain access to the spinal canal, and a microscope is used to see the nerves and disc and remove the disc bulge to relieve pressure on the nerve.

By using an endoscope, which is a long tube with a camera at the end, the surgeon can make a less than 1cm incision, insert the camera into the spinal canal, usually with little or no bone removal, and remove the disc that’s pressing on the nerve all through that small tube. This is an outpatient procedure, so patients go home the same day and have very little pain.

What are the benefits of endoscopic surgery?

Because of the small incision and little damage done to bone, muscle and ligaments in the area, there are many benefits to endoscopic surgery. The biggest benefit is the type of surgery that can be done. The endoscope allows me to in some cases remove pressure on the nerves in an outpatient manner, the patients have little or no back pain, there leg pain is almost immediately relieved, and they can get back to their normal activities within a few days. Depending on several factors, some of these patients would need to undergo a fusion surgery with traditional techniques due to the removal of bone and ligaments. A fusion would require a much longer recovery and avoiding heavy or strenuous activity for 3-6 months.

Traditional microscopic or tubular surgeries are excellent for reliving pressure on nerves and relieving arm and leg pain. Because of the ultra-minimally invasive nature of endoscopic surgery post-op pain, blood loss, risk of infection and recovery time are all improved with endoscopic surgery compared to traditional techniques.

Who is a candidate for endoscopic surgery?

This type of surgery is good for patients that have very specific pain in their arms or legs. It is not helpful for back or neck pain. Patients that have pain that goes from their back or neck into a certain area of their arms or legs may be candidates for endoscopic surgery.