Endoscopic Discectomy for Relief from Chronic Lower Back Pain

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Dr. Kaixuan Liu with Atlantic Spine Center with tips on popular, minimally invasive procedure that provides quick relief

Dr. Kaixuan Liu

Endoscopic discectomy – a minimally invasive surgery with a rapid recovery time – can provide relief from unremitting lower back pain when conservative measures fail.

Chronic lower back pain is so prevalent that 8 of 10 people endure it at some point in their lives. But endoscopic discectomy – a minimally invasive surgery with a rapid recovery time – can provide relief from unremitting lower back pain when conservative measures fail, according to Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, founder and president of Atlantic Spine Center.

A type of “keyhole” surgery using a thin, telescope-like instrument known as an endoscope, endoscopic discectomy requires only a small incision compared to traditional “open” surgery and has become a popular option for pain relief with minimal downtime, Dr. Liu says.

“Surgery is only considered after all other non-operative measures such as medication, physical therapy and other pain-relieving tactics haven’t worked,” he explains. “At that point, advanced diagnostic and pain mapping techniques allow us to make an accurate diagnosis of what’s causing the pain and determine if endoscopic discectomy can offer relief. For so many who have coped long-term with ongoing lower back pain, it can.”

Who needs endoscopic discectomy?
What conditions can be treated with endoscopic discectomy? Regardless of where it’s done on the spine, the procedure typically is used to remove damaged disc material that’s causing pain. In the lower back, Dr. Liu says, endoscopic discectomy can treat:

  •     Bulging discs
  •     Herniated discs
  •     Torn discs
  •     Radiculitis and/or radiculopathy – types of tingling, pain or weakness radiating from compressed nerves along the spine

During the procedure, the endoscope is inserted through a tiny incision and attached to a small video camera projecting an internal view of the patient onto TV screens in the operating room. The surgeon passes small surgical instruments through the incisions, which are typically no larger than a half-inch long, and visualizes the patient’s specific disc problem using x-ray fluoroscopy technology. Then the problematic disc or disc fragment is pulled out with a tool known as a grasper or vaporized with a laser.

“Endoscopic discectomy tackles some of the most common causes of lower back pain that severely impact people’s quality of life,” Dr. Liu says. “In about an hour’s time, the surgery is finished, and patients can go home within hours.”

Advantages of endoscopic discectomy
In addition to a short procedure time, endoscopic discectomy offers many advantages to patients, Dr. Liu notes. Because muscles aren’t cut, as occurs during open surgery, endoscopic discectomy boasts a much shorter recovery time.

Other advantages include:

  •     Local anesthesia
  •     Minimal pain
  •     Minimal blood loss
  •     Smaller chance of surgical complications, such as infection
  •     Minimal scar tissue after incisions heal
  •     High success rate
  •     No hospitalization

Any surgery carries risks, and endoscopic discectomy is no different. But these risks are greatly minimized because of the smaller incisions used, Dr. Liu says, and the procedure is successful in 9 of 10 patients.

“The vast majority of patients who undergo endoscopic discectomy for relief from chronic lower back pain achieve this highly desirable goal,” he adds. “Lower back pain becomes a distant memory and they return to all their favorite activities.”

Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, is a board-certified physician who is fellowship-trained in minimally invasive spine surgery at Atlantic Spine Center.

Atlantic Spine Center is a nationally recognized leader for endoscopic spine surgery with several locations in NJ and NYC. http://www.atlanticspinecenter.com, http://www.atlanticspinecenter.nyc

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