Many surgical procedures have been revolutionized by the use of special TV cameras. The procedure is still the same, but even smaller incisions (1/4 inch) are made to insert a special magnified TV camera into the spinal canal so that the surgeon can actually see the disc material. Through these tiny incisions, the camera and several other surgical instruments are inserted. Rather than looking through a microscope, the doctor watches the TV screen while working with specially designed instruments to remove the disc material.
Torn cartilages of the knee are now routinely removed with an arthroscope, and gallbladders are routinely removed with a laproscope. These small scopes give doctors a method of doing surgery with smaller incisions and with less risk to the nearby tissues. The same approach is evolving with spine surgery. Endoscopy of the spine is still in experimental stages and is not yet widely used. It might eventually give doctors a way to remove a disc with even less risk of injury than microdiscectomy. READ MORE