Automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy: technique, indications and clinical follow-up in over 1000 patients

Neuroradiology. 2003 Oct;45(10):735-43. doi: 10.1007/s00234-003-1066-1. Epub 2003 Sep 13.


This paper summarises my experience, over 14 years, treating over 1350 patients suffering from lumbar disc pathology, using minimally invasive intradiscal decompressive percutaneous techniques. The vast majority underwent the method introduced by Onik in 1985, referred to as "automated" since it involves a mechanical probe, working by a "suction and cutting" action for removal of the nucleus pulposus. Postoperative follow-up of at least 6 months was available for 1047 patients aged 15-92 years, who underwent this procedure up to June 2002. Results, based on a patient satisfaction, have been good in 58% of patients at 2 months and in 67.5% at 6 months; they have been particularly favourable in some subgroups such as elderly people (79.5% of excellent or good results), patients previously operated upon (78%) and those with "discogenic" low back pain (79%). Complication rates have been extremely low (less than 1%) and all complications cleared up without sequelae. In comparison with other percutaneous disc treatments, Onik's achieves the best compromise between clinical efficacy, comfort for the patient and low invasiveness.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Automation
  • Diskectomy, Percutaneous* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome