WHAT IS IT?
Endoscopic Spine Surgery (ESS) is an ultra minimally invasive surgical procedure that effectively relieves chronic low back and leg pain. This state-of-the-art surgery utilizes an HD camera attached to an endoscope inserted through a 1/4 inch skin incision to target pain generator in the spine.
Endoscopic Spine Surgery has been around for decades in other parts of the world, but still lingers in its infancy in America. "If you travel to Europe-especially Germany or southeast Asia, Japan-endoscopic decompressions and discectomies are almost the gold standard," says Daniel Kim, MD, spine surgeon who was one of the first to be performing the procedure in Alabama.
WHAT ARE THE PATIENT BENEFITS OF ENDOSCOPIC SPINE SURGERY?
Endoscopy takes minimally invasive spine surgery to its most advanced, state-of-the-art for to produce a quicker recovery time and less recurring pain for the patient. The small incision and smaller tools mean less trauma to the ligaments, bone, and joints—the stabilizing features of the spine—leading to a faster recovery. “There are problems that used to take weeks to months of recovery reduced to days with endoscopy,” Kim says. Most ESS procedures can be completed in about one hour with patients able to be back on their feet just a few hours after post-operative recovery.
HOW IS ENDOSCOPIC SPINE SURGERY DIFFERENT FROM MINIMALLY INVASIVE SPINE SURGERY?
Minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS), the standard of care in spine surgery, represents a broad spectrum of techniques, with endoscopic being the least invasive. Unlike the MIS incision of one inch or more, ESS uses a 1/4 inch incision. Smaller surgical incisions and avoiding major back muscles can significantly improve patient outcomes.
Longer-term outcomes for a nerve compression problem performed using any of the three options of open, tubular, and endoscopic spine surgery appear to be similar. But the short-term recovery does differ because of far less trauma caused while reaching the surgical site. “The journey matters just as much as the end result,” Kim says. “If we can provide patients with a more comfortable and more functional recovery, that matters too.”
Click here to read about Endoscopic Spine Surgery reaching Birmingham, Alabama with the help of Dr. Kim.
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