A method and apparatus for performing an arthroscopic spinal laminectomy or similar surgical procedure includes a plurality of cannulas which are individually inserted, in a predetermined sequence, into predetermined areas of a patient's spinal column. The first inserted cannula has a tissue manipulating surface thereon which is used to create a working space adjacent a predetermined area of the patient's spinal column. A viewing device is inserted through this cannula and the fluid used in association therewith is used to maintain the working space. The second and third cannulas are larger in size and are working cannulas in that they provide passageways for instruments used in the surgical procedure. The second and third cannulas are utilized by the surgeon to sequentially remove a portion of the ligamentum flavum necessary to expose the desired area of the patient's spinal bone and, if necessary, to remove any portion of bone necessary to expose the nerve and disc area. The nerves are then moved and the sequestered portion of the disc is removed, all utilizing the cannulas as passageways to perform the surgical procedure. In addition to a cannula which has a tissue manipulating surface thereon, the invention includes a rongeur having a cross section shaped to pass through a cannula and with a suction connection therefor so that whatever body tissue and/or bone fragments are cut by the rongeur may be removed by suction through the passageways created by the cannula.