Neuroendoscopy has grown rapidly in the last 20 years as a therapeutic modality for treating a variety of spinal disorders. Spinal endoscopy has been widely used to treat patients with cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral disorders safely and effectively. Although it is most commonly used with minimally invasive lumbar spine surgery, endoscopy has gained widespread acceptance for the treatment of thoracic disc herniations and for anterior release and rod implantation in the correction of thoracic spinal deformity. The authors review the use of endoscopy in spine surgery and in the treatment of spinal disorders as well as in the treatment of intrathoracic nonspinal lesions. Endoscopy has some significant advantages over open or other minimally invasive techniques in that it can allow for better visualization of the lesion, smaller incision sizes with reduced morbidity and mortality, reduced hospital stays, and ultimately lower cost. In addition, spinal endoscopy allows observers and operating room staff to be more involved in each case and fosters education. Spinal endoscopy, like any novel modality, carries with it additional risks and the surgeon must always be prepared to convert to an open procedure. The learning curve for spinal endoscopy is steep and the procedure should not be attempted alone by a novice surgeon. Nevertheless, with training and experience, the spine surgeon can achieve better outcomes, reduced morbidity, and better cosmesis with spinal endoscopy, and the operating times are comparable to open procedures. As technology evolves and more experience is obtained, neuroendoscopy will likely achieve further roles as a mainstay in spine surgery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology