Herniated lumbar discs are the most common cause of lower back and leg pain, but many hesitate to have an intervention because traditional back surgery is sometimes associated with a difficult recovery and serious side effects.
The quest for minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) has been ongoing. Judging by all the questions I get asked every day, many people have heard or seen Laser Spine Surgery commercials or the like.
The idea behind these commercials is that the painful spinal structures can be accessed through a smaller and smaller portal. The laser part refers to a method if removing or vaporizing tissue, usually disc material. Apart from its obvious advertising appeal, the use of laser is usually a secondary, far less important part of these procedures, as compared to minimizing the tissue trauma of traditional back surgery.
The latest and least invasive of these techniques are the endoscopic discectomy to treat herniated disks and endoscopic rhizotomy to treat back pain coming from the lumbar facet joints.
In Austin, Texas, at Precision Pain Consultants, we have been collaborating with The SMART Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah since 2014 to promote and perfect endoscopic spine interventions.
There are obvious benefits of this modern approach to managing back pain and herniated discs:
1. Small incision can be covered with a Band-Aid!
2. No muscle or bone dissection or removal – faster recovery and less pain.
3. Outpatient procedure offers immediate relief; patients perform light home activity the same day.
4. Specially designed instruments make it possible to operate on the herniated disk without a large open surgery.
5. Direct visualization is delivered with high-resolution cameras.
6. Previously operated patients with ongoing problems may benefit from this minimally invasive solution.
What is next?
Similar to the transition of other surgeries to a scope approach (knee and shoulder arthroscopy, abdominal laparoscopy), endoscopic spine interventions may be an option to the management of back pain from facet joint arthritis or back and leg pain from herniated disks.
This approach is not a replacement for any particular spine surgery, but could be a complimentary solution.
As with any procedure, the endoscopic spine interventions are not without risk. Challenging adverse results are possible. Therefore, each patient should undergo a thorough diagnostic and therapeutic evaluation prior to any endoscopic spine interventions.
Please call us or make an appointment if you would like to learn more.
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