Cervical automated discectomy. Report of 150 cases and evolution in the management of failure cases

Interv Neuroradiol. 1996 Mar 30;2(1):35-44. doi: 10.1177/159101999600200104. Epub 2001 May 15.


The lumbar automated discectomy system described by Onik has been used in the treatment of cervical disk herniations whose symptomatology resisted medical treatment. Experience on 150 patients is reported showing a 74.5% success rate. This series performed in most cases on an outpatient basis had no complications. Up to 1992 failure cases were treated by intradiscal injections of triamcinolone with 62 % of success. This complementary technique was abandonned after the description of epidural calcifications secondary to this type of injections in the lumbar area. Since 1992, failure cases have been managed differently with injections of steroids in the cervical joints, especially when a hypertrophy of the ligamentum ftavum supposedly a sign of an inflammatory posterior component of the pain was demonstrated on the CT. Nine patients received intradiscal injections of microdoses (600IU) of chymopapaine with excellent results. No patient has had open surgery since 1992. It is concluded that percutaneous automated discectomy is a very promising and safe technique which can be used as a first choice technique for most cervical disk herniations resisting medical treatment.