Each year in the United States, approximately 1.62 million instrumented spinal procedures are performed.1 Minimizing tissue trauma, tissue injuries, and post-operative pain help ensure a patient’s best recovery from back surgery. Fortunately, technology, equipment, instrumentation, and procedures for spine surgery have advanced tremendously over the years. Endoscopic Spine Surgery (ESS) is currently the best example of how far we’ve come in the treatment of our patients with back and neck pain. Let’s take a closer look.
How Is Endoscopic Spine Surgery Performed?
A micro-sized incision (less than 1-inch in diameter) and a small tube system used together with an endoscope to visualize the surgical field are the components of ESS.
The advancements in optics, visualization of tissues, and spinal imaging have made endoscopic surgery an attractive option for many patients, even though endoscopic surgery is commonly used to treat other parts of the body (e.g. gastrointestinal).
Endoscopic spine surgery is a minimally invasive advanced form of spine surgery that offers a faster recovery time and less recurring pain than conventional spine surgery methods.The ESS procedure can also preserve the normal range of spine mobility post-operation. Regional anesthesia can sometimes be used instead of general anesthesia, reducing overall medical risks for patients who are older or who have co-existing medical problems.
ESS is not the same as other types of spine surgery.
Traditional spine surgeries, such as minimally invasive, microinvasive, and/or laser spine surgery should not be confused with endoscopic spine surgery.Endoscopic spine surgery conducted by a spine surgeon skilled in the use of tubular retractor tools and an endoscope offers a variety of benefits for patients, including:
- Injuries to soft tissues can be avoided with tubular retractors (e.g., soft tissues-to-muscle damage or injury).
- There is less bleeding
- Postoperative discomfort and pain are reduced
- Healing and recovery as quickly as possible
The surgeon may recommend another spinal surgery procedure in those cases, such as traditional open or minimally invasive surgery. However, ESS may not be appropriate for all spine surgery indications, including scoliosis, spinal instability, cancer, or trauma.