Frequently Asked Questions About Endoscopic Spine Surgery

An image of a neurosurgeon holding an x-ray with a question mark inside An image of a neurosurgeon holding an x-ray with a question mark inside

When it comes to considering Endoscopic Spine Surgery as your back pain solution, you're likely to have many questions. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive on the procedure and our answers to them. Keep in mind that every person is different and while these answers are generally true, you should always talk face-to-face with a neurosurgeon, like Dr. Jae Lim, to determine the best solution for your specific spinal condition.

If you have additional questions or would like further clarification on endoscopic spine surgery, please reach out to our team.

How long does it take to recover from endoscopic spine surgery?

As is often the case, recovery time can vary from person to person depending on the location of the surgery, the type of surgery required and the lifestyle of the patient. However, most patients are able to leave the hospital the same day and are typically able to return to their active lives within 4-6 weeks after surgery. However, some are back to normal in 1-2 weeks.

How soon can I leave the hospital after surgery?

In the past, patients were expected to spend at least 2-3 days recovering in the hospital after their surgery. Now, thanks to better technology and minimally invasive techniques, patients can walk out of the hospital, often pain-free, the day of their surgery.

How long will it take before I can get back to work and exercise?

While the specific length of your recovery will depend on your surgery, minimally invasive techniques when coupled with consistent physical therapy can reduce the time you spend in recovery. Some patients are able to return to their normal activities within the span of a few weeks.

Will there be a scar from my surgery?

Endoscopic spine surgery requires a neurosurgeon to make a small incision in the back above the location of the affected portion of your spine. This incision will likely leave a scar. However, surgeons can typically work through a space of about 7mm, which is less than half the size of a dime, meaning the scar will be very small.

Will endoscopic spine surgery hurt?

Patients undergoing endoscopic spine surgery will be put under general anesthesia, meaning that you will not be able to feel pain throughout the course of your surgery. When you wake up, a nurse will typically measure your pain levels and determine if you require any medication to help ease it. Most patients upon waking up from surgery often feel relief from their back pain.

Will endoscopic spine surgery permanently fix my spine issues? 

Depending on your specific spinal condition, endoscopic spine surgery can permanently treat conditions in the spine. Most spine pain is caused by disc herniations or degeneration that is putting pressure on the sensitive nerves that travel through the spinal column. Endoscopic spine surgery can clean up the area around those nerves and relieve the pressure. However, for more serious, degenerative spinal conditions, further surgery may be required. 

How many minimally invasive surgeries has Dr. Jae Lim performed?

Dr. Jae Lim, MD has performed over 3,000 minimally invasive surgeries and over 100 using robotic technology, being one of the only neurosurgeons in the United States with that experience.

How is endoscopic spine surgery different from open spine surgery?

Unlike open spine surgery, which requires surgeons to scale or cut through muscles and soft tissue when accessing the spine, in endoscopic spine surgery, neurosurgeons simply need to push the soft tissues aside when traveling down to the affected portion of the spine. This gentle approach is safer and causes far less post-operative pain.

Once the endoscope has reached the affected portion of the spine, the neurosurgeon is able to run specialized tools down through the tube and shave, clip or extract the damaged portions of the disc or spine that are pressing up against the nerves.

In terms of visualization, the endoscope is second to none. With the high definition camera and a powerful light source, physicians are able to see exactly where they’re working and what’s occurring in the back at all times.

The endoscopic camera is connected to a monitor that sits in front of the operating surgeon which he watches while performing the procedure. This is, undoubtedly, one of the most technical parts of the operation because the neurosurgeon must work with their hands while watching a screen.

Being able to do this with the level of precision required for spine surgery takes years of specialized training.

Below is a real-life example of what a neurosurgeon sees while performing an endoscopic spine surgery.

How does ENDOSCOPIC SPINE SURGERY work?

In an endoscopic spine surgery, a surgeon will make a small keyhole incision in the back, often about 7mm, and place a specialized endoscope down to the affected area of the spine.

What is an endoscope? This endoscope is an instrument specially created for spine surgery, giving enough room for a high definition camera and light source as well as a working channel for the neurosurgeon's instruments and an irrigation channel.

This gives the surgeon everything they need to perform their operation safely and effectively without having to open up a large section of the back.

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Atlantic Brain and Spine A graduate of both Yale and Stanford, Dr. Jae Lim is a board-certified spine surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery and robotic spine surgery, significantly reducing surgical impact and recovery times. (703) 876-4270
8501 Arlington Blvd. Suite 330
Fairfax
Virgina
22031
United States
Jae Y. Lim Ben L. Nguyen