Early return to activity after minimally invasive full endoscopic decompression surgery in medical doctors

Yugen Fujii, Kazuta Yamashita, Kosuke Sugiura, Yoshihiro Ishihama, Hiroaki Manabe, Fumitake Tezuka, Yoichiro Takata, Toshinori Sakai, Toru Maeda, Koichi Sairyo


Full endoscopic surgery including discectomy (FED) and ventral facetectomy (FEVF) is a minimally invasive lumbar decompression surgery that only requires an 8 mm skin incision and can be done under the local anesthesia and sedation. Six male medical doctors underwent the endoscopic decompression (FED/FEVF) for common degenerative lumbar spine problems. Their age ranged from 27 to 63 years of age with a mean of 40 years. Five doctors underwent FED surgery for herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP), and the remaining one physician had FEVF for lumbar lateral recess stenosis. There were no surgery related complications. Postoperatively, 5 out of the 6 physician patients returned the original job within a week because they had clinical duties. The shortest duration to return to work was reported by a 63-year-old orthopedic surgeon resumed working in his clinic 2 days after the FEVF surgery. The longest duration to return to work occurred in general medicine resident who took almost 2 weeks for the sick leave because he did not have clinical duties. The mean duration for the returning to work was 5.8 days after the surgery. At final follow-up ranging from 6 to 30 months, all physician patients were working without any residual pain. In the hands of the authors, the full endoscopic transforaminal decompression surgery is the preferred surgical option and allowed early return to work—an observation that is not the norm in Japan.