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Endoscopic Discectomy

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Starting with only a tiny incision (top right) a neurosurgeon inserts the endoscope into the herniated disc using an endoscope, a long, slim tool that includes a camera and a channel for small tools. A tool threaded through the channel is used to repair the disc.

The most advanced, least invasive approach to spine surgery, endoscopic procedures require an incision barely a quarter of an inch long. That tiny incision allows a specially trained neurosurgeon to insert an endoscope and navigate to the damaged disc. During an endoscopic discectomy for a herniated disc, an endoscope – a small camera on a slender catheter that can be outfitted with specialized tools – allows the surgeon to make a surgical repair without a large opening. The endoscope relays real-time video of the surgical site to the neurosurgeon who is using the tool and watching a monitor. Endoscopes have long been used in other types of surgery, but they are relatively new to spine surgery. Dr. Eric Elowitz of Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, who has pioneered other minimally invasive spinal techniques, has become a national expert in endoscopic laser spine surgery.

More about the Endoscopic Spine Surgery Program at the Weill Cornell Medicine Brain and Spine Center