Percutaneous endoscopic discectomy for far lateral lumbar disc herniations: prospective study and outcome of 66 patients

M Sasani, A F Ozer, T Oktenoglu, N Canbulat, A C Sarioglu
Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery: MIN 2007, 50 (2): 91-7

BACKGROUND: Extraforaminal disc herniations represent up to 11% of all lumbar herniated discs. Numerous surgical approaches have been described. Percutaneous endoscopic discectomy (PED) is one of the minimally invasive techniques; after mastering this procedure it is a practical method that is used for treatment of foraminal or extraforaminal disc herniation. The outcome of PED for treatment of foraminal or extraforaminal disc herniation has been studied.

METHOD: A total of 66 patients with foraminal or extraforaminal lumbar disc herniation was treated by applying the PED technique between January 1998 and June 2005. The positions of the herniated disc levels were L2-3 (n=5, 8%), L3-4 (n=19, 28%) and L4-5 (n=42; 64%). The selected patients had no previous surgery, appropriate conservative therapies were done before the operations, and MRI was the main diagnostic method with the clinical findings. Evaluation of the patients with clinical examinations, visual analogue pain scale (VAS) and Oswestry scale was performed preoperatively, on postoperative day 7 and in the postoperative 6-12 months period.

RESULTS: In two patients (n=1, L4-5 and n=1, L3-4) disc material could not be removed with PED, so discectomy was performed with microscopic visualization during the same session. Three patients (n=3, L4-5) were reoperated on three to six months after primary surgery due to recurring disc problems with microscope visualization. In two patients (n=2, L4-5) root nerves were partially damaged, and in two patients (n=2, L4-5) root nerves were impinged by the working channel. These 4 patients had dysesthesias from just after surgery to a mean of 45 days after surgery. One of recurrent cases was among these patients. Neurological examinations showed minimal muscle weakness of the quadriceps femoris and diminished sensation of the L4 dermatomal area in patients with partial nerve root damage. This patient improved and the neurologic examination became normal with disappearance of the dysesthesia. There was no sign of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RDS). With these two patients VAS and Oswestry scales scores decreased significantly early in the postoperative follow-up. The postoperative 6-month average scores are favourable in comparison with the average score at postoperative day 7. The postoperative 12-month scores showed no significant differences to those of postoperative month 1.

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive method and offers many benefits to the patient, but extensive surgical practice is needed to become a capable surgeon. Consequently this technique can only be a treatment option on appropriate patients. This study reconfirmed that the removal of fragmented disc material is achieved and offers a pain-free status.

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