Skip to content

Percutaneous Endoscopic Discectomy Surgery

While this procedure may sound scary, percutaneous endoscopic discectomy is one of the more painless surgical procedures used to treat chronic back pain. It requires no general anesthetic, no invasive cuts and minimal recovery time. Many patients feel pain reduction within minutes of receiving the surgery.

Percutaneous means through the skin, endoscopic means that a laser and miniature camera are used, and discectomy means that the surgery removes one of your spinal discs.

The spinal discs are the cartilage joints that separate your vertebrae. However, whether through injury, strain, degenerative disease, or a combination of the three, a disc may become ruptured, herniated or otherwise damaged beyond repair.

This is a problem because it can place stress and undue pressure on the spinal cord, which, in turn, can cause a number of painful symptoms across the body such as numbness, pins and needles, shooting pain and muscle fatigue, among others.

Conditions Treated by Percutaneous Endoscopic Discectomy

This surgical procedure is most commonly used to treat spinal disc related conditions. These include:

  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint ablation
  • Pinched nerve
  • Sciatica


In order for a percutaneous endoscopic discectomy to be recommended, an MRI or X-ray is usually done to determine the condition it needs to treat.

In lieu of or in preparation for the operation, milder treatment options such as physical therapy, pain medication or acupuncture can also be done. However, if these methods do not reduce your pain, the doctor may recommend following through with a percutaneous endoscopic discectomy.

The Process

This surgical procedure will occur as follows:

  1. You will receive local anesthetic on the spot where surgeons will make an incision into your back. The surgeons will insert a tube, known as a cannula, in which a laser, camera, suction and/or irrigation tools will be tightly packed.
  2. The surgeon will push skin, muscle and other tissue away to reach your spinal column. Using the tools in the cannula, the surgeon will remove all the disc debris causing pressure and buildup on your spinal cord.
  3. The surgeon will remove the cannula. At this point, many patients report feeling instant reduction in their pain. Depending on the level of work done, the surgeon may use a bone graft or metal rods to fuse your vertebrae.
  4. Finally, the surgeon will stitch your skin back together.

This is an outpatient procedure, meaning that you will be able to leave the hospital the same day of the surgery. You will need to do a couple hours of physical therapy before you leave, but the surgical procedure only takes 30 to 45 minutes. You will come in the following day for a post-operative examination, and you should be fully recovered within a few days.

Only your doctor can tell you if you need a percutaneous endoscopic discectomy. Contact your physician if you believe you need surgery for your chronic pain.