Endoscopic spinal surgery: The next level of minimally invasive care

April 22, 2023

Mayo Clinic's large neurosurgical practice has specialists dedicated to a range of spinal surgery techniques, including endoscopic spinal surgery. That breadth of expertise allows treatment to be tailored to patients' specific needs.

"Endoscopy is the next enhancement of minimally invasive spinal surgery. At Mayo Clinic, we can now offer the most minimally invasive procedures, complex open surgeries — and everything in between."

Endoscopic spinal surgery can be used for a variety of conditions. "But it is most useful for patients with disk protrusions — especially foraminal and extraforaminal disk protrusions — where our standard approach would involve more removal of supportive bony structures. The truly minimally invasive approach with endoscopy results in fewer permanent biomechanical alterations following elective spinal surgery," Dr. Pirris says.

Although endoscopic spinal surgery was first performed decades ago, it has garnered increasing interest, due to recent innovations in endoscopic tools.

"The most obvious potential benefit of endoscopy is less collateral damage to the surrounding tissues of the spinal column," Dr. Pirris says. "That generally means a shorter recovery period. Patients potentially need less pain medication and can return to activities more quickly."

He notes that Mayo Clinic follows standard recommendations for recovery because the risk of recurrent disk herniation is similar for patients treated endoscopically and more invasively.

Mayo Clinic clinicians have had extensive training in endoscopic spinal surgery. "We've approached this in a judicious manner, to make sure all our staff were comfortable with the procedures," Dr. Pirris says.

Although useful for any age group, endoscopic spinal surgery eventually might offer particular benefits for older individuals. "Over time, as we are able to do more of these procedures without general anesthesia, we can avoid some of the ill effects of anesthesia on an aging population as well as causing less scar tissue," Dr. Pirris says.

As the population of the United States ages, endoscopic spinal surgery also might prove more cost effective.

"We expect there will be more applications of endoscopy that might spare some patients from spinal fusions," Dr. Pirris says. "The current rate of instrumented spinal fusions in our population may not be sustainable in the future. We're going to have to find ways to treat greater numbers of people and treat them less invasively. At Mayo Clinic, we are staying on the cutting edge to help people efficiently return to their active lives."

For more information

Refer a patient to Mayo Clinic.