Minimally invasive discectomy for lumbar disc herniation: current concepts, surgical techniques, and outcomes

Int Orthop. 2019 Apr;43(4):917-922. doi: 10.1007/s00264-018-4256-5. Epub 2019 Jan 3.


Purpose: To date, various minimally invasive surgeries for lumbar disc herniation (LDH) have been performed in many countries, including microendoscopic discectomy (MED) and percutaneous endoscopic discectomy (PED). We herein report the surgical indications, current concepts, and techniques of minimally invasive discectomy for LDH, including MED and PED. The postoperative outcomes and risks of complications compared with conventional discectomy are also discussed.

Methods: By reviewing past literatures, the current concepts, surgical techniques, and clinical outcomes were described.

Results: Minimally invasive discectomy is generally performed using a transmuscular approach with an endoscopic technique and can reduce muscle and soft tissue damage. The minimal invasiveness can also reduce the severity of postoperative pain and improve patient satisfaction compared with conventional open discectomy. Based on the data of previous systematic reviews and meta-analyses, minimally invasive lumbar discectomy, such as MED and PED, appears to be safe and effective alternatives to open discectomy for patients with symptomatic LDH. These minimally invasive surgeries can provide beneficial effects to shorten the hospital stay and time to return to work. However, minimally invasive discectomy has a demanding learning curve. Only a well-trained surgeon and support team should perform these less invasive procedures.

Conclusions: Clinical evidence supporting the superiority of MED and PED is still limited. Well-designed prospective multicentered randomized controlled trials with large samples are therefore needed in order to draw a convincing conclusion.

Keywords: Disc herniation; Discectomy; Endoscopic surgery; Lumbar spine; Minimally invasive surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diskectomy* / methods
  • Diskectomy, Percutaneous* / methods
  • Endoscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement
  • Length of Stay
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures* / methods
  • Prospective Studies

Supplementary concepts

  • Intervertebral disc disease