Endoscopic Spine Surgery

The latest advances in spinal surgery mean you can get back to enjoying an active life—with less down time. If you’ve been considering back surgery, perhaps it’s time to hear about the benefits of endoscopic spine surgery at The Spine Center of Louisiana. Trained in the latest technological advances, the center is a one-stop shop for comprehensive spinal care. Call or schedule an online consultation today with Dr. Kevin P. McCarthy or Dr. C. Chambliss Harrod at one of their three convenient locations in Baton Rouge, Walker, or Prairieville, Louisiana.

Endoscopic Spine Surgery Q & A

What is endoscopic spine surgery?

Endoscopic spine surgery is a minimally invasive alternative to spinal surgery. Requiring only a small incision, endoscopic spine surgery offers a shorter healing time than traditional surgical methods.

In endoscopic spine surgery, Dr. Harrod or Dr. McCarthy start by making a small cut in your back. The surgery is done through a narrow, metal tube that minimizes muscle and tissue damage. A tiny camera called an endoscope goes through the tube and into your back, sending high-definition images to a monitor your doctor can see.

The endoscope allows your surgeon to view your spine and surrounding tissues to perform surgery, avoiding the need to make a major incision along your back. This surgery can be tailored to treat common back conditions, allowing you to return to your normal activities more quickly.

What does endoscopic spine surgery treat?

Endoscopic spine surgery can help with many painful spine conditions. It can treat:

  • Facet-related pain
  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Stenosis
  • Spinal tumors, deformities, and infections

How does endoscopic spine surgery treat facet-related pain?

The facet joints in your lower back are the cause for as much as 40% of back pain. In the past, the typical treat for this type of pain involved using X-rays and a heated probe to ablate the medial branch nerve. The downside was doctors couldn’t see the treatment area in real-time. That’s why this approach was sometimes called “blind” surgery.

With endoscopic spine surgery, your doctor inserts an endoscope and special instruments such as a laser or radiofrequency probe through a tiny incision in your back. Using these instruments, Dr. Harrod and Dr. McCarthy can see and ablate your medial branch nerve. This procedure should provide more accurate, predictable, and lasting results than traditional “blind” methods.

How does endoscopic spine surgery treat damaged discs?

In this outpatient procedure, Dr. Harrod or Dr. McCarthy inserts a small camera into the degenerated or herniated disc to remove small fragments that are causing pain. A heat probe or laser helps to seal the torn disc and remove loose tissue.

After surgery, you may need to wear a brace for several weeks. You’ll be able to resume most of your day-to-day activities within two weeks.

Are you ready to learn whether advanced spinal care such as endoscopic spine surgery is right for you? Call or schedule an online consultation today with The Spine Center of Louisiana.

Endoscopic Rhizotomy

The facet joints of the lumbar spine are responsible for controlling motion and providing stability to the lower back. These small articulations can develop arthritis and inflammation similar to the hip, knee and other larger joints in the body. The facets are thought to be responsible for low back pain in up to 40% of cases. The facet joints are innervated by a small medial branch of the spinal nerve. This nerve is responsible for transmitting the sensation of pain from the facet back to the brain. In patients with suspected facet related pain, the medial branch has historically been targeted with a rhizotomy. This procedure has been classically done by pain management doctors. A probe is inserted percutaneously with X-ray guidance to the area where the nerve is thought to be located based on anatomic relationships. The probe is then heated and wanded back and forth with the hope of ablating the nerve and relieving the pain. However, this blind technique can have its limitations and failures, and recurrence rates can be high. When this procedure is successful, patients can experience relief of their lower back pain up to 12-18 months.

The Spine Center of Louisiana has been performing a new and innovative procedure for facet related back pain. Patients are diagnosed with this condition through a physical examination, radiographic studies and a confirmatory medial branch block injection. Appropriate patients are considered for the endoscopically assisted medial branch rhizotomy.

During this procedure, an endoscope is inserted percutaneously and the medial branch nerve is located with direct visualization. The endoscope has a unique working channel through which special instruments such as a laser or radiofrequency probe can be inserted. Using these instruments, the medial branch nerve can then be ablated under direct visualization. It is theorized that this procedure will allow more accurate targeting of this nerve and thus more predictable and lasting results than the more common blind medial branch rhizotomy. This procedure has been performed with great success by our team since 2009. The Spine Center is currently enrolling patients in a clinical study to collect comparative data on the effectiveness of this new technique.

Selective Endoscopic Discectomy graphic

Endoscopic Discectomy

In this procedure, a small camera is inserted into a degenerated or herniated disc for the purpose of removing small fragments that are causing pain. It is only indicated for specific types of disc lesions that are usually associated with a tear. During the procedure, a heat probe or laser is used to aid in sealing the torn disc and ablating loose tissue.  This is an outpatient procedure performed with the patient under sedation.  Patients are usually placed in a brace for several weeks following the procedure and allowed to return to most activities within two weeks.