Endoscopic Spine Surgery vs. Traditional Open Back Surgery

Many people are curious as to what the advantages and disadvantages of these two styles of surgery are. The easy answer is that if the patient is a good candidate endoscopic back surgery will provide the advantage of speeding up the process of surgery and healing. Truly though what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Because these styles of surgery both have many different procedures under their classification we can only look at the more common factors involved. Endoscopic spine surgery doesn’t require a large incision. This is because the surgeon manipulates the endoscope and specialized surgical instruments through small working tubes. The endoscope allows the surgeon to gain access to the damaged area and view it on a display screen. During traditional open back surgery the surgeon is required to cut more tissue and muscle to visualize the damage he is repairing. With a smaller incision there are less chances of complications arising as well as less time needed to heal the surrounding muscle and tissue.

Traditional open back surgery often requires the patient to stay in the hospital for multiple days while recovering from it. Endoscopic back surgery is a same day process in most instances; the patient is admitted in the morning and discharged within 2 hours of the surgery if there are no complications.

With both endoscopic and traditional open back surgery there will be pain after the procedure, but there will be significantly less after the endoscopic surgery. This is because, as stated earlier, there is less cutting and manipulating of the surrounding tissue and muscles.

The unfortunate reality is that not everyone is a candidate for endoscopic back surgery. Some conditions have simply advanced to the point that more intense surgery is required. Usually at this point the traditional open back surgery would be a multilevel spinal fusion. It is important to note that a spinal fusion should not be considered a first choice as once it is performed there is no going back. It is a permanent modification of the spinal anatomy and could be successful or a failure. If it is a failure there is a small chance that you may end up in more pain than before you had the operation.

The most important thing that you as a patient can do is seek the advice of a medical professional. Do not be afraid to get more than one opinion if you are not satisfied with your first one. Although there are plenty of websites on the Internet that provide useful and knowledgeable information, without seeing your medical history or performing a proper examination, conclusions you form on your own may be completely inaccurate.