Endoscopic discectomy is the least invasive surgical procedure to treat spinal conditions such as herniated discs, disc tears, arthritis, or degenerative disc disorders. If you experience back pain and loss of sensation in your extremities, your doctor could perform various tests to determine your exact condition.

Your doctor may recommend an endoscopic discectomy after exploring all other non-surgical treatments for these conditions. Discectomy is a procedure that uses small incisions and imaging techniques to remove a damaged disc. This procedure offers many benefits, including a high success rate, less scarring, and bleeding.

Your spinal cord is a critical part of your body. Therefore, you will not trust just any surgeon to perform the procedure. At Dr. George Rappard’s Practice, we understand the significant negative impact of spine complications on your quality of life. We offer skilled endoscopic discectomy surgery and other surgical procedures for all our clients in Los Angeles, CA.

An Overview of Endoscopic Discectomy

Endoscopic discectomy is a common spinal surgery used to treat herniated discs and other complications of the spinal cord. Compared to other surgical treatments, endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive and painful procedure when correcting defects in the discs of the lumbar, thoracic, or cervical areas. With this type of surgery, the surgeon will not remove the bones or muscles to remove the herniated discs.

Endoscopic discectomy is different from a minimally invasive or open microdiscectomy. During endoscopic spine surgery, the surgeon does not need to make large incisions in your skin. Instead, they use cameras to guide them into the spine. This means less scarring and pain from the procedure. Lumbar and thoracic endoscopic discectomy was invented to relieve pain and reduce complications associated with traditional spine surgeries.

The endoscopic discectomy procedure starts with patient sedation with local anesthesia. The surgeon will then make a small incision on the skin of your back. This incision allows entry of the observation instrument into the disc space. The doctor observes your spinal cord using a video monitor to determine the exact complication. After correcting the underlying issue, your surgeon will remove the instruments and cover the incision area.

Conditions Treated Using Endoscopic Discectomy

Your doctor could recommend endoscopic discectomy if you have any of the following conditions:

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a painful condition where the bone around the spinal cord narrows and puts pressure on the nerves. This condition is characterized by the severe neck and lower back pain. Spinal stenosis is attributed to various reasons, including age, rheumatoid arthritis, and spinal malfunctions. The symptoms of spinal stenosis include:

  • Numbness of lower extremities. The compression of spinal nerves causes the numbness of your feet and arms.
  • Difficulty with bowel and bladder control
  • Difficulty walking and standing
  • Tingling sensation on the hands and legs

In severe cases, spinal stenosis can affect your ability to perform daily tasks or even go to work. Your doctor will explore non-surgical treatments like pain relief and physical therapy before considering procedures like endoscopic surgery.

Bulging Disc

Bulging disc is a term used to describe the degree of severity of a herniated disc. The spinal disc is a soft cushion between vertebrae. The disc could be strained with poor posture and advancement in age, causing it to lose shape and bulge. The bulging disc applies excessive pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. Bulging of the disc is the beginning of various spinal cord complications, such as spinal stenosis and sciatica.

Common causes of a herniated disc include:

  • Age-related changes in the spinal cord could cause a strain and bulge of the disc.
  • Traumatic injuries. Severe trauma or repetitive strenuous activity can cause bulging discs.
  • Family genetics. Some people are genetically predetermined to develop a weak spinal disc. The inherited conditions increase the person’s risk of developing a herniated disc.
  • Unhealthy posture. Poor back posture when sleeping or resting can cause various spine complications, including a herniated disc.

In addition to medications and therapy, your doctor can recommend that you undergo an endoscopic discectomy. With an incision of less than ¼ inch, your surgeon can observe and correct the disc.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disorder is a condition that occurs when the spinal discs. Spinal discs are rubbery cushions and work to absorb the shock when you bend or move. When the discs wear away as a normal part of aging, the bones begin to rub together, causing pain and discomfort. Other complications resulting from degenerative disc disorder include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Adult scoliosis
  • Spinal stenosis

Degenerative disc disease is common among older adults. If you are obese, a smoker, or suffer acute injuries to the back, you are more susceptible to the condition. Symptoms that are common among individuals suffering from this condition include:

  • Tingling sensation and numbness of arms and legs
  • Pain that lasts for weeks or months
  • Pain which worsens when you sit or bend

Your doctor diagnoses degenerative disc disease using MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays to determine the level of damage to your spine. When other pain relief methods are ineffective, your surgeon can recommend the removal of the disc through endoscopic discectomy.

Sciatica Pain

Sciatica is the pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which branches to your hips and lowers your back. Sciatica commonly occurs when a herniated disc or spine narrowing compresses spine nerves. The pressure on the nerves can cause numbness of the affected area, pain, and inflammation. The pain from this condition varies wildly from mild to severe, depending on the pressure on your spine. Risk factors associated with sciatica include:

  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Diabetes

Endoscopic spine surgery is one of the treatment options to treat sciatica pain. Although most individuals could recover from sciatica without treatment, it is vital to seek medical care if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Weakness and loss of feeling in your legs
  • Loss of bladder and bowel function


Spondylolisthesis is a condition occurring when one of the vertebrae bones of your spine slip and lands on the vertebrae below it. There are three main types of spondylolisthesis, including:

  • Congenital spondylolisthesis. This condition occurs when the baby’s spinal cord fails to form properly before birth.
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis happens when there is a bone fracture or weakness.
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis. This is the most common type of spondylolisthesis and comes with normal body aging.

If you experience back stiffness, pain, and numbness when bending, your doctor may begin with a discectomy may be necessary.


Arthritis is a condition characterized by tenderness and swelling of the joints. The pain and stiffness associated with the condition worsen as you age. Arthritis causes the hard slippery tissues of your joints to break down. The factors that could predispose you to different forms of arthritis include:

  • Family history. If your parents or siblings have certain types of arthritis, your risk of developing the condition is higher.
  • Your sex. Females are more likely to develop arthritis when compared to men.
  • Like other spine disorders, the risk of arthritis increases with age
  • Carrying around excessive pounds can put stress on the joints, especially the knees, spine, and hips

Treatment for arthritis is focused on relieving pain and other symptoms. However, your doctor could recommend an endoscopic discectomy when the condition affects the spine.

The Advantages of Endoscopic Discectomy

The benefits offered by endoscopic discectomy include:

  • Minimally invasive. When performing an endoscopic discectomy, your doctor makes an incision of less than ¼ inch. Additionally, there is no removal of tissues or bones to reach the discs.
  • Less risk of blood loss. Unlike other spine surgeries, blood transfusion is not necessary for endoscopic discectomy.
  • HD cameras give your surgeon a better view of the problematic area.
  • Endoscopic discectomy has a success rate of up to 90%
  • The mobility of your spine and back is preserved since there is less scarring
  • Spinal fusion is not necessary
  • Little or no pain is experienced after the procedure, meaning you don’t need to depend on pain medications.

Risks Associated with Endoscopic Discectomy

Endoscopic spine surgery is a safe procedure. However, like other surgical procedures, there is a risk of the following complications:

  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia. Some individuals do not react well to anesthesia. Your surgeon will administer local anesthesia to prevent discomfort and pain before the discectomy. Some of the common symptoms of an allergic reaction to anesthesia include muscle twitches. Coughs, face swelling, and shortness of breath. Your doctor can help avoid such complications by reviewing your complete medical history before the surgery.
  • Nerve damage. During your surgery, the nerve roots are exposed to create a way to remove the problematic disc. The nerve root could be damaged with inexperienced surgical hands, causing sensory problems.
  • Infection. Infection at the surgical site is a possible complication, even in minimally invasive spine surgeries. Your surgeon reduces the risk of infection by sterilizing the skin and equipment before cutting through the skin.
  • Excessive bleeding. The incisions necessary for endoscopic discectomy are tiny. However, minor bleeding is experienced from the muscle and spinal column. While the risk of excessive bleeding is low, it can be life-threating complications for some people. Your surgeon could recommend that you avoid blood thinning medications before the surgery to avoid excessive bleeding.
  • Risk of recurrence. The worst outcome of spine surgery is a recurrence of the underlying disc condition. If your condition does not improve, you may require a second surgery to re-evaluate the disc.

Endoscopic Discectomy Post-Operative Instructions for Patients

Since endoscopic discectomy is not an invasive procedure, you will be discharged within twenty-four hours of undergoing the procedure. However, your doctor could give the following instructions to ensure faster recovery and reduce complications:

  • Pain control. Although the surgeon will administer anesthesia before the procedure, some people could experience slight pain and discomfort after the anesthesia wears off. Your doctor will prescribe oral analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications, and muscle relaxants to ease the discomfort. Over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs can supplement prescribed pain medications.
  • Physical Activity. Your doctor will advise you to avoid vigorous activity after your spine surgery. Therefore, you should limit activities that involve prolonged bending or twisting of the lumbar spine. However, you should not remain inactive for too long. Walking around helps improve blood flow and reduces post-operative complications.
  • Proper nutrition. The right post-operative nutrition helps in the healing process. The doctor can recommend a high intake of proteins and vitamin A to heal your tissues and wounds.
  • It would be safe to take a bath up to three days after the surgery. However, you must avoid hot tubs until your wound dries up.

Six to twelve months after the spine surgery, you may undergo x-ray imaging and other tests to determine the effectiveness of the surgery.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from an Endoscopic Discectomy Procedure?

Endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that takes an hour to complete. You will not experience much pain during and after the procedure. Since there is no removal of bone or large incisions, you will not have to worry about caring for stitches. The amount of time you need to recover from this procedure varies depending on your activities following the surgery.

For individuals who perform sedentary duties like office work, recovery time may take up to two weeks. However, the recovery time could be longer for individuals who perform strenuous activities like manual labor or vigorous physical activity. Your surgeon could recommend physical therapy for faster recovery.

Is Endoscopic Discectomy Better than Other Procedures?

Compared to laser or automated transdermal discectomy, endoscopic discectomy is superior. All other techniques are blind, meaning the surgeon does not see what’s happening inside. The use of imaging devices for endoscopic spine surgery allows the surgeon to see inside the spinal canal. This makes the treatment specific and effective. Additionally, endoscopic surgery allows for the treatment of multiple disorders.

Find a Skilled Neurointerventional Surgeon Near Me

When your doctor diagnoses you with different spine disorders like herniated discs and spinal stenosis, the doctor could recommend endoscopic discectomy as a treatment option. Endoscopic spinal surgery has become common since it is less invasive than other procedures.

Instead of making large incisions on your skin to remove the problematic discs, your surgeon makes small incisions and uses microscopic instruments to assess the disc conditions and correct them. This procedure causes minimal scarring, and the risk of surgical complications is lower.

If you suffer from a spinal cord condition that may require endoscopic surgery, you will need an expert surgeon. At the Dr. George Rappard Clinic, we pride ourselves on providing top-quality neuro-interventional services to all our patients in Los Angeles, CA. Contact us today at 424-777-7463 for all your endoscopic discectomy needs.