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Endoscopically-Assisted Microdiscectomy (Microendoscopic Discectomy)
Endoscopically assisted microdiscectomy is basically the same procedure as a standard microdiscectomy done through a tubular retractor. The difference is that the anatomic structures are being visualized with an endoscope that is placed through the tube as opposed to looking at the anatomy with a microscope or surgical loupes (eyeglasses with magnifying telescopes). The potential advantage of using the endoscope is that the procedure can be done through a slightly smaller incision, using smaller tubes, than a standard microdiscectomy, but in most cases the procedure is done through an incision 18mm in length (the diameter of a dime).
Although endoscopically-assisted microdiscectomy can be done through smaller incisions, this procedure still requires a small amount of bone and ligament tissue removal (laminotomy) to access the spinal canal. Also, the nerve and dura (nerve sac) have to be moved slightly to expose the disc safely. Therefore, this approach does not remove the potential complications associated with the microdiscectomy: nerve injury, scarring around the nerve, and spinal fluid leak (dural tear). Fortunately, these risks are very low.