Endoscopic Spine Surgery or ESS is an ultra-minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to treat spine problems. The most common spine problems are neck, back and leg pain that are caused due to bulging or herniated discs, spinal stenosis, facet joint syndrome, disc tears, degenerative disc disease and failed back surgery.
Endoscopic Spine Surgery is performed using a high-definition camera that is attached to an endoscope, which is inserted through a 0.25-inch incision to the part of the spine that needs to be treated. The camera is linked to a monitor where the surgeon can observe the spine and perform the surgery with the help of laser, probe or graspers.
Any surgery of the spine aims to reduce pain by relieving pressure and irritation of the spinal cord and nerve roots originating from there. During surgery it is very important to preserve the spinal anatomy and functionality of the muscles of the back. Endoscopic Spine Surgery ensures that these surgical outcomes are achieved and patient does not have any residual pain after surgery.
In addition to this Endoscopic Spine Surgery has the following advantages over open surgery:
The spinal cord is a part of the central nervous system with important nerves around it making it a vulnerable area. During an open back surgery, chances of damaging the spinal cord and nerves is very high. Another reason for failed back surgeries is the formation of scar tissue around the spine after surgery. The risk of trauma and injury can be avoided by minimally invasive surgery.
Endoscopic Spine Surgery has shown excellent results in cases of herniated (slipped) discs, sciatica, facet joint syndrome, spinal stenosis and failed open surgeries of the spine. It is ideal for patients who have been on conservative treatment including rest and physical therapy for 4-6 weeks without much relief.
Older patients with comorbidities like diabetes and heart conditions are also ideal candidates for Endoscopic Spine Surgery. They recover faster with fewer complications and lesser pain.
Patients scheduled for endoscopic spine surgery are mildly sedated and then administered local anaesthesia at the surgical site. The surgeon then guides a spinal needle and guidewire to the painful disc. An incision is made and a cannula is placed over the guidewire down to the spinal disc. An endoscope with an attached camera is inserted into the cannula that helps in visualizing the internal structure of the disc. Specialized micro instruments placed through the endoscope help the surgeon in decompressing the affected spinal nerves, resecting the herniated discs and bone spurs causing impingement. The scope and cannula are then removed and skin is bandaged. Patients are kept under observation for 2 hours and then sent home.