Endoscopic Discectomy is an outpatient surgical procedure to remove herniated disc material. Using local anesthesia with the help of X-ray fluoroscopy and magnified video for guidance, a small, specially designed endoscopic probe is inserted through the skin of the back, between the vertebrae and into the herniated disc space. Tiny surgical attachments are the sent down the hollow center of the probe to remove a portion of the offending disc. The microsurgical attachments can also sometimes be used to push the bulging disc back into place and be used for the removal of disc fragments and small bony spurs.
The procedure takes about an hour, on average. X-ray exposure is minimal. A patient normally will feel little, if any pain or discomfort. There are no external stitches. Upon completion, the probe is removed and a small bandage is placed over the incision. The amount of nucleus tissue removed varies but the supporting structure of the disc is not affected by the surgery. The access route to the disc consists of only the probe's small puncture site, usually one half inch, in comparison to large incisions required for some open surgery.