TESSYS — A Minimally Invasive Herniated Disk Procedure

Swedish Hospital's Chicago Brain & Spine Institute was the first spine center in Chicago to offer the TESSYS (transforaminal endoscopic surgical system) procedure, a minimally invasive approach to treating herniated disks. This endoscopic microdiscectomy is designed to preserve important back muscles so you can regain and maintain mobility, which allows you to recover — and get back to daily life — faster.

During the procedure, also known as the “keyhole” surgery, a specially trained neurological surgeon uses narrow endoscopic tools to remove the damaged disk area through a small, keyhole-sized (one to two centimeter) incision in the patient’s side. Whereas traditional surgeries and many other minimally invasive procedures can cause damage to the muscles surrounding the spine, the keyhole technique avoids the muscles altogether and impacts only the damaged part of the disk.

Benefits of the Tessys Procedure

  • Less pain and scarring
  • A shortened hospital stay (many patients go home the day of surgery)
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Faster recoveries overall
  • A reduced risk of needing follow-up surgeries 

Learn more about this procedure in the video below.

About Dr. Laich

Dr. Dan Laich is a neurological surgeon at the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute. He became the first American surgeon trained to provide this procedure after traveling to Germany in 2006 to learn the technique and perfect his skills. Dr. Laich is still the only spine surgeon in Illinois consistently performing the surgery, and he trains other spine surgeons from across the United States and the world. He also has the longest experience in the city in the performance of total disc replacement surgery. 

Dr. Laich is one of five surgeons chosen to collect data for a national clinical study measuring the effectiveness of minimally invasive spine surgery. Surgeons from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America recently attended an educational symposium about this procedure hosted at the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute.

Patient Testimonials

Getting Back to a ‘Nawlins Lifestyle

Tom McCauley, 65, and his wife split their time between Aurora and New Orleans, often making several trips back and forth every year.  Tom enjoys his active but laid-back lifestyle, filled with good food, good music and an occasional round of golf, but this lifestyle was recently threatened by a sudden bought of back pain which caused Tom to lose feeling in his left foot while on vacation. He immediately returned to Chicago and visited the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute. Dr. Laich identified a herniated disk which could cause permanent nerve damage and recommended a TESSYS endoscopic microdiscectomy surgery. Less than an hour after the procedure, Tom had regained feeling in his foot and has since made a full recovery.

Even so, Tom returned to the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute several months later for another surgery — but not for himself. His daughter, Kristin McCauley of Rogers Park, had injured her back while moving furniture and also suffered a herniated disk. After trying to manage her pain through medication, physical therapy and chiropractic visits, Dr. Laich recommended the TESSYS procedure.  Like her father, she immediately felt relief after surgery and is now fully recovered and back to work and everyday life.

Aiding an International Traveler

When Craig O’Brien, a 40-year-old from Naperville, hit the water slides with his kids on a family vacation, he had no idea how much suffering it would bring him and his career. A fluke injury caused two herniated disks that got progressively more painful and debilitating despite physical therapy and other conservative treatments.

The pain reached its worst just before a long-planned, crucial business trip to Hong Kong. Craig’s doctor said he needed surgery but Craig feared missing the trip would damage his career.

That’s when Dr. Dan Laich at the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute told him about the TESSYS procedure, an innovative endoscopic microdiscectomy surgery in which the damaged disks are removed without damaging surrounding muscles or tissues. This allows for faster recovery than traditional or even other endoscopic procedures — meaning Craig could get the procedure and recover in time for the big trip.

Craig received the procedure in March and went home a few hours after his surgery — and was on his way to Hong Kong less than 10 days later, virtually pain free.

Contact Us

Learn more about neurology at the Chicago Brain & Spine Institute or call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form to schedule an appointment today.

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