Endoscopic Anterior Cervical Disectomy

What is an endoscopic anterior discectomy?

Percutaneous means surgery is performed through a needle puncture, instead of a large skin incision. The use of a needle allows the surgeon to access the disc through a tiny opening in the skin and through natural openings in the spine. Once the needle is in place it is exchanged for a small tube that allows an endoscope to pass through it. Endoscopic means that the surgeon performs the procedure through a channel in the endoscope, while watching with the endoscope camera.

How is a percutaneous endoscopic cervical discectomy performed?

Percutaneous cervical discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of neck pain or cervical nerve pain due to a herniated disk. To start the procedure, a tiny skin nick is made on the skin at the front of the neck. A needle is placed through the skin nick and into the disc. A small wire is then placed into the disc, through the needle. The needle is exchanged for a series of small tubes. Using specialized instruments surgery is performed through these tubes. The procedure is guided by an endoscope, placed through the tube, and x-rays.

What are the advantages of percutaneous endoscopic discectomy?

Because a needle is used to access the disc from the skin a skin incision is not made, only a skin nick. Since the needle arrives to the disc via natural spinal openings healthy tissues are not disrupted. For example, unlike traditional minimally invasive surgery, muscles are not stripped from bone to access the spine, healthy bone is not removed to access the spinal openings and important spinal ligaments are not cut to access the disc. Performing surgery through a tiny skin nick and leaving healthy tissues intact means a same day procedure with a quicker recovery.

How long will the procedure take?

The procedure typically takes an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how many levels are operated on. After the procedure you will recover for two to four hours before going home.

What is the recovery like?

You will walk out the door and go home the same day with pain medications. For the first two to three days we advise plenty of rest with light neck stretching exercises. Activity should be tolerably increased over 7 days and should consist of short walks at first and a gradual return to normal daily activities. Avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting (over 10 to 15 pounds) for the first several months. If one’s job is sedentary then work can be resumed in 7 days. At 4 weeks physical therapy can be resumed. Since the procedure is minimally invasive rehabilitation will generally be easier and faster than with traditional surgery. Recovery time will vary based on individual factors.

The 4 Pillars of Treating Chronic Spinal Pain

George Rappard MD discusses the 4 key pillars of spine care. The 4 pillars are physical therapy and chiropractic care tailored to your condition, appropriate selection of medical therapy, pain injections targeting your specific pain source and, as a last result, minimally invasive motion and stability preserving spinal surgery performed as an outpatient procedure. Through effective use of the first 3 pillars only about 5% of our patients need to go on to have back surgery or neck surgery.

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