Open anterior cervical discectomy with or without fusion is the standard operative treatment for cervical disc disease at this time. If the treating physician is to fully counsel his patient concerning surgical alternatives, then cervical endoscopic discectomy must be included.
Open anterior cervical procedures are very intimidating, cervical endoscopy is much less intimidating. This arthroscopy and discectomy have been made possible with advanced technology and are performed through a very small incision. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia with spinal monitoring for maximum patient safety. The skin over the involved disc is identified with the use of fluoroscopy. The soft tissues are pushed out of the way by an assistant or a co-surgeon. A needle is passed through the skin and soft tissue for a short distance into the disc, and an arthroscope is passed over the needle into the disc and the needle is removed.
The inside of the disc is then visualized and the portion of the disc responsible for the symptoms is removed with motorized instruments and also under direct visualization. A Band-Aid size dressing is applied and cervical collar is used for approximately two weeks.
Many patient have significant relief of their symptoms immediately following surgery. The patient is routinely discharged the same day and can resume normal physical activities in two to six weeks.
Benefits of cervical selective endoscopic disc when compared to alternative surgical procedures:
- Minimal scarring
- Minimal discomfort, much less pain than with open procedures
- Reasonably less chance of complications than with open surgery
- Anterior structure of the disc is still maintained
- No planned hospitalization
- Faster return to normal activity
- Probable significant cost savings