Endoscopic Surgery of the Spine as a Multi-Disciplinary Subspecialty for Appropriately Trained, and Experienced Providers
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Introduction: Endoscopic spine surgery has attracted both surgeons and nonsurgeons in increasing numbers as endoscopic spine systems, a variety of spine endoscopes, and new and evolving surgical instrumentation are developed. The procedure, using fluoroscopically guided percutaneous techniques, are getting more standard, easier, safer, readily reproducible, and more cost effective. It has also been an avenue for surgeons and a few appropriately trained and certified non-surgeons to participate in a minimally invasive, procedure oriented health care delivery platform that provides cost effective results after failure of nonsurgical methods. Such a multidisciplinary team has been established at the University of New Mexico through a donation to the University by the first author.
Discussion: Asia, especially China and Korea, has seen adoption of endoscopic spine surgery grow exponentially in the past few years, recognizing that endoscopic spine surgery may be the answer to delivering cost effective spine care to their working and aging population. Two basic methods are the mainstay of current endoscopic techniques. The least invasive techniques in the lumbar spine are transforaminal, but translaminar endoscopic approaches are better accepted and easier for endoscopic surgeons to grasp.
Conclusion: Endoscopic spine surgery has great promise in countries with looking for cost effective delivery of health care to its population. Endoscopic surgery is the least minimally invasive surgical platform that will facilitate a move away from fusion as a first line of surgical treatment, delaying or eliminating fusion for patients who may have indications for decompression and fusion, but do well with an earlier and staged procedure that will mitigate the need for open decompression and fusion by 75%, derived by large individual and group databases known to this author.