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An overview of endoscopic spine surgery

Last Modified: June 27, 2024

Diseases & Disorders, Family Medicine


This post was written by Micah Smith, MD, orthopedic surgery, Ortho NorthEast.

For those experiencing chronic discomfort radiating through their back or down their legs, a minimally invasive spine procedure could be the path to relief.   


Generally speaking, there are two primary groups that benefit from endoscopic spine surgery. The first is those with lumbar stenosis, an arthritic condition. The second is those with a disc herniation, meaning a piece of disc material is broken off, spit into the canal and pinching the nerve.

Both of these pathologies cause pain or numbness that radiates down the back and/or leg from a nerve that is being pinched.

Treatment plan 

The first path of treatment is almost always to start with more conservative approaches, including medication and physical therapy. If none of these strategies resolve the symptoms, it could be time to consider surgery.

Most patients, unless they have another health condition that would rule out surgery, are good candidates for endoscopic spine surgery.

Minimally invasive approach 

During the procedure, the surgeon will access the affected area through a one-centimeter incision. They will go in with a scope, similar to the process for a knee or shoulder scope.  

If the patient has stenosis, the surgeon will go in and clean out the arthritis using a tool called a burr. We shave the bone out and address other areas of the bone to relieve the pressure from the nerve.

If the patient has a disc herniation, there typically isn’t bone in the way, so the surgeon will find the piece of disc that split and pluck it out to remove it from the nerve.


I've been performing endoscopic spine surgery for a couple of years now. We’ve refined our techniques and instrumentation to make the method more widespread so that more patients can benefit from it.

It is the least invasive approach, aside from injections. The camera used for the procedure is 10 millimeters, so the incision is tiny. It takes just one stitch to close the incision and then the patient goes home.


With this minimally invasive approach, recovery is much quicker. Many of our patients don’t even take narcotics afterward. They are able to address the post-op discomfort using over-the-counter NSAIDs and pain relievers.

This means that people can get back to normal daily activities quicker. We still recommend that they limit their movement for the first six weeks, but ultimately, we encourage patients to let pain be their guide.

If you have pain traveling down your back or legs, it’s worth exploring whether endoscopic spine surgery is a good solution for you. While there are some instances when a more aggressive surgery might be necessary, you can discuss your unique needs in the orthopedic surgeon’s office.

To schedule orthopedic care in Allen County, call Ortho NorthEast at 260-484-8551 or request an appointment here, or visit this page to find orthopedic care outside of Allen County.


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