The Tessys method (transforaminal endoscopic surgical system) is a minimally-invasive, endoscopic spinal procedure for the treatment of a herniated disc. It was invented by Dr Thomas Hoogland in the Alpha Klinik in Munich and was first called THESSYS (Thomas Hoogland EndoScopic SYStem). The company Joimax changed the name after Dr Hoogland developed an advanced and safer system called MaxMore, which has patented drills with a blunt tip.
With the Tessys method, the surgeon removes the herniated portions of the disc using posterior lateral endoscopic access. This surgical method for spinal disc herniations is especially gentle for the patient. During the procedure, the patient is positioned either in the lateral or prone position, and local anesthetic is administered, usually in combination with sedation. The patient remains responsive, and typically general anesthesia is not necessary. The surgeon removes the herniated disc tissue through an access tube of mere millimeters via the intervertebral foramen. With special instruments, the surgeon progressively and gently dilates to access the disc without disrupting the surrounding muscles or conjunctive tissue.
The Tessys method was developed during the early 2000s. As of January 2011, more than 50 hospitals and surgery centers in Germany are using the Tessys method; worldwide, it is used by approximately 200 surgical facilities.
The system was introduced in the Netherlands in 2004 under the acronym PTED (percutaan transformale endoscopische disectomy) by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Yprenburg), who has since then successfully used the procedure with hundreds of hernia patients.
The Tessys method is suitable for most prolapsed discs, regardless of the anatomical position. Another spinal indication for the Tessys procedure would be cauda equina syndrome, in a case where conservative methods of treatment failed to ameliorate the pain, or if only surrounded nerves are affected. Every intervertebral surgery requires a prior detailed discussion with the patient and imaging diagnostics such as MRI, CT scans and/or X-ray. Monitoring of the compressed nerves and associated pathways is indicated due to the proximity of surgical manipulations that are in contact with nerve roots and/or the spinal cord. Monitoring modalities indicated are continuous somatosensory evoked potentials and spontaneous electromyography of the muscles supplied by the affected nerve roots. Performing a discogram during the surgery procedure provides additional confirmation of the patient's anatomy and the position of the disc prolapse.
To remove a herniated disc, the Tessys method uses a lateral, transforaminal, endoscopic access path via the intervertebral foramen. The surgery takes about 45 minutes. During the procedure, the patient is either in the lateral or prone position.
The access to the prolapse is achieved using a three-step guide wire technique: The surgeon gradually dilates through the soft tissue with the aid of C-Arm radiographic monitoring and stretches the foramen step-by-step, with little or no disturbance to the surrounding muscles and nerves. Utilizing Tessys via nature’s entry point, also known as Kambin's Triangle, preserves the stability of the spinal column.
The endoscope features a slim working channel to guide instruments to the anatomy. The surgeon leads the endoscope through the working tube while in surgery. The camera emits pictures and/or video of the operating field to a monitor, while the surgeon uses special surgical instruments to remove the herniated disc material safely, with precision.
- Minimally-invasive surgical access: the risks of bleeding, infection and nerve injury are reduced
- Less post-operative pain: no wound or muscle pain
- Short recovery period and fast return to active lifestyle
- No general anesthetic necessary: the risks of nerve injury or thrombosis are significantly reduced; less cardiac cycle stress
- Immediate pain relief directly after the surgery procedure in 90% of cases
- Direct access to the sequester of the herniated disc
- Cost-saving method due to the reduced length of hospital stay
- Steeper learning curve compared to open surgery techniques
- Costs of instruments and technologies
- Technically demanding surgical procedure
Studies document the advantages and the success of minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery. The US research clinic the Cleveland Foundation agrees that the recovery period in patients treated with the Tessys method is accelerated by several weeks to months in comparison to conventionally treated patients. Many other studies document a success rate of more than 93%.
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