Methods and apparatus are provided for selective surgical removal of tissue. In one variation, tissue may be ablated, resected, removed, or otherwise remodeled by standard small endoscopic tools delivered into the epidural space through an epidural needle. The sharp tip of the needle in the epidural space, can be converted to a blunt tipped instrument for further safe advancement. The current invention includes specific tools that enable safe tissue modification in the epidural space, including a barrier that separates the area where tissue modification will take place from adjacent vulnerable neural and vascular structures. A nerve stimulator may be provided to reduce a risk of inadvertent neural abrasion.