Posterolateral endoscopic excision for lumbar disc herniation: Surgical technique, outcome, and complications in 307 consecutive cases

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002 Apr 1;27(7):722-31. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200204010-00009.


Study design: A retrospective review involving 307 consecutive cases of lumbar disc herniation managed by posterolateral endoscopic discectomy was conducted.

Objectives: To describe a contemporary posterolateral endoscopic decompression technique for radiculopathy secondary to lumbar disc herniation; to evaluate the efficacy of the technique as it is applied to lumbar disc herniation including primary herniation, reherniation, intracanal herniation, and extracanal herniation; and to report outcome and complications.

Summary of background data: The concept of percutaneous posterolateral nucleotomy was introduced in 1973. The development of the related equipment and technique had witnessed a slow and lengthy evolution.

Method: A retrospective assessment of 307 patients was performed at least 1 year after their index operation. The outcome was graded according to a modified MacNab method. A patient-based outcome questionnaire also was incorporated into the study.

Results: The surgeon-performed assessment showed satisfactory results in 89.3% of the cases. The rate of response to the questionnaire was 91%. The responses indicated that 90.7% of the respondents were satisfied with their surgical outcome and would undergo the same endoscopic procedure again if faced with a similar herniation in the future. The poor outcome occurred in 10.7% of the primary group and 9.7% of the questionnaire group. The combined major and minor complication rate was 3.5%.

Conclusions: The surgical outcome of posterolateral endoscopic discectomy for lumbar disc herniation is comparable with that for the traditional open transcanal microdiscectomy. Intracanal and extracanal herniations, reherniations, and incidental lateral recess stenosis can be addressed by the same approach.

MeSH terms

  • Decompression, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods
  • Diskectomy / adverse effects*
  • Diskectomy / methods*
  • Endoscopy / adverse effects
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome