Has anyone heard of this as an alternative to regular spinal surgery?
Its a minimally invasive procedure done by North American Spine. There is little published data on it, but its not too different from other minimally invasive procedures being done today. I have found the society of minimally invasive spine surgery to be a good source for reputable docs who use minimally invasive techniques, their website is smiss.org.
I pulled this from the accuroscope website so take it with a grain of salt.
"Our physicians examine the inside of the spinal canal and the discs of the lower back, from both sides of the spinal canal, to identify any tears, ruptures, herniations, bulges, scar tissues or other abnormalities. Our physicians find inflammation and actually diagnose the source of pain!
Our physicians then use a number of instruments to shrink the damaged disc(s) or scar tissue, or treat the spinal stenosis, and relieve pressure on the spinal nerve(s). The procedure is usually completed in 30 to 40 minutes. Most patients experience immediate relief. Patients are returned to the recovery area and are usually discharged approximately one hour after surgery."
It sounds like its appropriate for herniated/bulging discs/sciatica by putting a scope into your spine finding the herniation than performing a microdiscectomy or similar procedure through the small opening they have created for the scope.
I also have been trying to find more evaluations of this technique. It sounds very interesting. North American Spine says they have performed over 4500 procedures, yet I have not been able to find any comments by patients, other than the ones on North American's web site, or objective critical reviews. Their presence on the web is extensive (they are making a strong sell) and it appears that all their surgeons are anestheologists with pain management experience, not orthopedic or neurosurgeons. I also wonder whether they can do any fusion or stabilization work, or just clean out problems. I also wonder what other professionals who operate on spines think about the procedure. Are they lining up to get trained? or is there a fatal flaw or limitation in the procedure. We need more information.