Endoscopic Discectomy and Microdiscectomy for Lumbar Herniated Discs

Question:Is endoscopic discectomy or microdiscectomy better for two lumbar herniated discs?

I have an MRI that shows two herniated discs in my lower back. After conservative treatments have failed, I am now considering surgery to treat my lumbar herniated discs.

What are the differences and advantages/disadvantages of endoscopic discectomy versus microdiscectomy?

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Doctor’s response: Microdiscectomy has less complications than endoscopic discectomy for lumbar herniated discs

My understanding of the endoscopic procedure is that it is not substantially better than a microdiscectomy (which is the gold standard and the most commonly performed treatment). Both surgeries are minimally invasive and there is very little difference in the amount of morbidity (e.g. postoperative pain) between the two procedures.

Personally, I do not perform the endoscopic procedure. I believe that its popularity is lacking among surgeons because it is difficult to do and using the scope gives the surgeon limited visualization. Compared to a microdiscectomy, endoscopic discectomy also seems to have a higher complication rate.

This is obviously entirely my opinion, but if I were to have surgery for a lumbar herniated disc, I would choose to go with the lumbar microdiscectomy performed by a spine surgeon who has a lot of experience with this procedure.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.

Written by Medical Reviewer