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Percutaneous endoscopic interlaminar discectomy for intracanalicular disc herniations at L5-S1 using a rigid working channel endoscope.

Neurosurgery 2006 Februrary
OBJECTIVE: Percutaneous endoscopic transforaminal discectomy is often used as a minimally invasive procedure for lumbar disc herniation. However, a transforaminal approach posts limitations at the L5-S1 level owing to anatomic constraints, such as a high iliac crest or small intervertebral foramen and especially for migrated large intracanalicular disc herniations. We discuss the procedure and clinical results of percutaneous endoscopic interlaminar discectomy using a rigid working channel endoscope at the L5-S1 level and the relevant surgical anatomy.

METHODS: We performed percutaneous endoscopic discectomy through the interlaminar approach in 67 patients who satisfied our inclusion criteria during the period from March 2002 to November 2002. All procedures were performed under local anesthesia. Under fluoroscopic guidance, we performed discography using indigocarmine mixed with radio-opaque dye. The 6-mm working channel endoscope was then introduced into the epidural space. Herniated disc material was removed using forceps and laser under clear endoscopic visualization. We retrospectively evaluated the 65 cases with more than 1.5 years of follow-up. The patients were evaluated using the visual analogue scale (VAS) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI).

RESULTS: VAS for leg pain (preoperative mean, 7.89; postoperative mean, 1.58) and ODI (preoperative mean, 57.43; postoperative mean, 11.52) showed statistically significant (P = 0.00) improvement in their values at the last follow-up examination compared with preoperative scores. Of the study group, 90.8% individuals showed favorable result. The mean hospital stay was 12 hours. The average time to return to work was 6.79 weeks. Complications included two cases of dural injury with cerebrospinal fluid leakage, nine cases of dysesthesia that were transient, and one case of recurrence. Two patients required conversion to open procedure at the initial operation. There was no evidence of infection in any patients.

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous endoscopic interlaminar discectomy is a safe, effective, and minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of intracanalicular disc herniations at the L5-S1 level in properly selected cases, especially when the transforaminal approach is not possible because of anatomic constraints.

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