Endoscopic imaging has also been playing an important role in spine surgery for many years because high-resolution intraoperative imaging facilitates minimalized access ports to the operating site. This therefore provides a tool designed to implement concepts for minimally invasive surgery. Alongside the ventral endoscopic approaches to the spinal column, which are mainly used thorascopically for fractures and tumors, endoscopy is also being increasingly used for dorsal and lateral approaches in degenerative diseases.
Moreover, since the endoscope is used very differently in these techniques, further differentiation is required in order to compare the various techniques effectively. Techniques that place the endoscope for visualization in the operation tube are designated as endoscopically assisted procedures (e.g. also MED for micro-endoscopic discectomy). Furthermore, full-endoscopic procedures have been developed and standardized in particular over the past 20 years.