Endoscopic Discectomy

What is it?
Endoscopic discectomy is a trimming down of the herniated portion of the disc performed (just like arthroscopic knee surgery) with a long thin tube through which a camera and instruments allow Dr. Rao to see the ruptured disc and remove the pressure on the nerve. Endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that offers several advantages to traditional open surgery including:

  • A shorter recovery time, patients often go home hours after the procedure;
  • Outpatient setting for procedure;
  • Less invasive (no damage to muscle, bone or soft tissue) ; and,
  • A faster return to work.

One of the biggest advantages of this procedure is muscle tissue is simply moved out of the way instead of cutting the muscle and retracting it. In general, this results in less pain.

What causes a herniated disc?
Injury or trauma can cause a herniated disc. When this happens, the softer, inner part of the vertebra bulge out of the hard disc. This causes pressure on the nerve which leads to pain.

The Procedure
An endoscopic procedure requires only a small incision, which allows Dr.Rao to insert a scope (surgical microscope) into the site of repair. This endoscope and a surgical camera allow access to the ruptured disc.

Dr.Rao will then remove the herniated portion of the disc using instruments through the endoscope. Only the ruptured portion of the disc, which is causing the nerve to be pinched, is removed.

Once the herniation is removed and the nerve is free, the quarter inch incision is closed with simple skin tape. Once the herniation is removed and the nerve is free, the quarter inch incision is closed with simple skin tape.

Am I Eligible?
Patients are first evaluated to determine the best course of treatment. Factors such as the severity of your back pain and other lifestyle factors are considered. Things to be aware of are:

  • Recurring buttock, groin, low back, or leg pain, numbness or weakness
  • Pain that has not responded to conservative treatments, i.e. bed rest, pain medication, physical therapy, or muscle relaxants
  • Herniated, prolapsed, or bulging discs confirmed by x-ray studies that may include one or more of the following:
    • CAT Scan
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    • Myelography

If you would like to find out if you are a candidate for this procedure, you can schedule an appointment online or by calling Dr.Rao at (925) 691-1700.