International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery Policy 2019-Surgical Treatment of Lumbar Disc Herniation with Radiculopathy

Int J Spine Surg. 2020 Feb 29;14(1):1-17. doi: 10.14444/7001. eCollection 2020 Feb.


Lumbar disc herniation (LDH) is a frequent cause of low back pain and radiculopathy, disability, and diminution in quality of life. While nonsurgical care remains the mainstay of initial treatment, symptoms that persist for prolonged periods of time are well treated with discectomy surgery. A large body of evidence shows that, in patients with unremitting symptoms despite a reasonable period of nonsurgical treatment, discectomy surgery is safe and efficacious. In patients with symptoms lasting greater than 6 weeks, various forms of discectomy (open, microtubular, and endoscopic) are superior to continued nonsurgical treatment. The small but significant proportion of patients with recurrent disc herniation experience less improvement overall than patients who do not experience reherniation after primary discectomy. Lumbar discectomy patients with large annular defects (≥6 mm wide) are at a higher risk for recurrent herniation and revision surgery. Annular closure via a bone-anchored device has been shown to decrease the rate of recurrent disc herniation and associated reoperation in these high-risk patients. After a detailed review of the literature, current clinical evidence supports discectomy (open, microtubular, or endoscopic discectomy) as a medically necessary procedure for the treatment of LDH with radiculopathy in indicated patients. Furthermore, there is new scientific evidence that supports the use of bone-anchored annular closure in patients with large annular defects, who are at greater risk for recurrent disc herniation.

Keywords: annular closure; discectomy; lumbar disc herniation; radiculopathy.