Lessons Learned Using Local Anesthesia for Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Spine Surgery


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Background/purpose: Operating under local anesthesia allows the patient to respond and provide feedback during surgery that is invaluable for patient safety and for the assessment of the pain generators and ultimately understanding of the source of pain that the surgeon is targeting. Over 10,000 case studies make up the database for information gleaned from patients reporting the pain experienced and relieved during translaminar and transforaminal endoscopic decompression.

Method: The patient is provided mild sedation with versed and fentanyl unless no sedation is requested. Patients requesting no sedation are usually anesthesiologists and other spine surgeons who opt for decompressive surgery, but wanted some measure of surgical participation and control. The anesthesiologist titrates the patient with 1-2 cc of fentanyl and versed pre-op with titration during surgery. The average total amount is 4-5 cc for most procedures. 1% lidocaine is utilized for the local anesthetic. An average of 10-20 cc is used for local anesthesia, titrated as needed during surgery.

Results: The results of decompression can be predicted by a combination of pain relief reported during, immediately after, and augmented by visualization of the targeted patho-anatomy. Such visualized pathology visualized includes annular tears, decompressed spinal nerves, and visualization of the axilla between the traversing and exiting nerve.

Conclusion: Observations provides level 5 EBM (Expert opinion) for surgical intervention. Evidence based medicine usually starts with level 5 “expert” opinions. With the ability to evoke pain in conscious surgical patients, with endoscopic images of the patho-anatomy that correlates evoked pain production with subsequent pain resolution following visualized endoscopic decompression. Along with comparison of pre-and post op images, a new and different and level of EBM may emerge and need to be considered in addition to the traditional Levels 1-5 EBM guidelines.

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