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In and Out Back Surgery No Longer Sci-Fi

What if you could have back surgery without the surgery? Something like a modern-day knee surgery, or shoulder surgery, only in the spine. Unheard of, right? Not really, not until now.

A Beverly Hills neurosurgeon has created a revolutionary small endoscopic discectomy that decompresses and repairs damaged discs in the back without exposing the spine. Dr. David Ditsworth, M.D. spent the last ten years perfecting the technique and designing the medical equipment necessary to perform this virtually closed-spine surgical procedure.

People with excess abdominal and back fat have need for less-invasive back surgeries. By Ryan Gierach.

"It is effective, low risk, and allows for a faster return to work and to daily activities. Patients are discharged the same day with just a band-aid," remarks Dr. Ditsworth. This procedure, done on an outpatient basis, is now available to patients at Beverly Hills Doctors Surgery Center on Spalding Drive in Beverly Hills.

Whereas endoscopic techniques used in other areas of the body have become commonplace, spinal endoscopic techniques have developed more slowly. This is because of the complex anatomy inherent in the spine and because of the lack of equipment designed specifically for spinal endoscopy. Working space within the spine is confined deep within the body, with access to pathology hampered by the bony structures and the presence of soft tissue, epidural vessels, nerve roots, and dura. All of these obstacles are overcome by Dr. Ditsworth's specialized medical equipment and targeted technique.

The endoscopic discectomy procedure takes an hour on average. Patients normally will feel little discomfort. There are no stitches. Upon completion, a small adhesive bandage is placed over an opening no larger than a freckle. The amount of nucleus tissue removed varies, but the supporting structure of the disc is not affected by Ditsworth's technique. "[Dr.] Ditsworth's superb technological approach effectively dispels most of my previous criticism of the numerous so-called minimally invasive procedures," remarks Dr. Charles Fager, professor of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School and author of Atlas of Spinal Surgery.

An entire industry has sprung up to help back pain patients cope with chronic spinal issues. People spend $27 billion a year at specialty retailers like Relax Your Back and websites like spineonline.com. Lower back pain is the most prevalent cause of disability in people under age 45. "Four out of five adults will experience significant lower back pain sometime during their life,?according to Amy Hendel, host of TV's Doctors On Call. “After the common cold, problems caused by the lower back are the most frequent cause of lost work days in adults under the age of 45,?she says.

The endoscopic technique invented by Dr. Ditsworth allows the "average" body shape of people over 50 access to outpatient spinal surgery. By Ryan Gierach.

Proponents laud the effectiveness and low risk of the procedure, as well as the fact that there is little or no scarring in or around the nerves or on the surface. "This is the back surgery of the future," says Dr. Stewart Dunsker, Professor and Director of Spine Surgery, University of Cincinnati and the President of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. And because the Endoscopic Discectomy procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, people can return home the day of the procedure. Patients fly in from around the world for the procedure and fly home the following day.

"[Too] many people with chronic back pain are suffering too much for too long and need more advanced treatment," says Dr. Ditsworth. He proposes to help those who most need non-invasive back surgery. For more info, click on spineonline.com.

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