The Yeung Endoscopic Spine Surgery (YESS) system is an outpatient, minimally invasive procedure to relieve pain caused by herniated discs. Disc herniation is a common spinal injury that occurs when the matter inside the intervertebral disc (similar to jelly) is pushed out, forming a sort of bulge within the disc’s membrane. This bulge will then press on the nearby nerve roots, which can cause pain that flares up after standing or sitting, pain that is focused on one side of the body, or sometimes even a numbness.
Before any incision is made, the surgeon will administer a local anesthesia that is aimed to only affect the part of the body that is carrying the herniated disc or discs. After local anesthesia is administered, the surgeon makes a very small incision and inserts a guide wire using an x-ray machine typically known as a fluoroscope to ensure the wire reaches the affected disc. Along with the guide wire, other minimally invasive tools are used to streamline the surgery. An obturator, for example, is used to push apart the affected tissue and move the nerve root out of the way so as to avoid unnecessary nerve damage. A working sleeve is then inserted, providing the surface area which the yeung endoscopic spine surgery is performed.
An endoscope is also used, which is a typical minimally invasive spine surgery tool that carries a small light and camera. The endoscope allows the surgeon to view the herniated disc space on a video screen, and is inserted to give the performing surgeons a clear look at what areas are damaged. Finally, a laser is used to remove the damaged discs. Only the degenerative or extruded parts of the disc are removed with the laser, keeping the spine stable.
Once the procedure is over, the tools are removed, and the open cut can usually be covered up by a simple bandaid. Most patients may need a day of bed rest after the surgery, so as to allow the spine to heal without any unnecessary pressure. Normal activity is usually allowed to patients one to six weeks after the surgery.