Objective: To evaluate the clinical outcomes of transforaminal endoscopic thoracic discectomy (TETD) and microscopic discectomy (MD) for the treatment of symptomatic thoracic disc herniation (TDH).Methods: Seventy-seven patients (mean, 55.9 years; follow-up, 11.2 months) with symptomatic TDH were retrospectively reviewed (39 TETD and 38 MD). Radiological factors and perioperative outcomes were reviewed. Visual analogue scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and American Spinal Injury Association impairment scale were used to evaluate clinical and functional outcomes. Patient satisfaction was evaluated using modified MacNab criteria.Results: The levels of surgery and the location of hernia were evenly distributed in the both groups. The operative time (70.6 minutes vs. 175.7 minutes), estimated blood loss (3.8 mL vs. 357.4 mL), and length of hospital stay (7.0 days vs. 13.0 days) were significantly different between the TETD and MD groups (p < 0.05). VAS scores for dorsal back pain and ODI scores were significantly improved in both groups (p < 0.05). Patients who underwent TETD tended to be more satisfied with the outcome in terms of the modified MacNab criteria (89.7% vs. 73.0%, p = 0.059). Two patients in the MD group underwent revision surgery, whereas one patient in the TETD group underwent MD because of incomplete decompression.Conclusion: TETD for the symptomatic TDH is a feasible and safe procedure that could be used for a wider range of surgical levels with a shorter operative time and hospital stay and less blood loss. While achieving similar outcomes, TETD achieved better patient satisfaction because of the use of local anesthesia and its minimal invasiveness.
Thoracic disc herniation and stenosis are relatively rare, and various symptoms make them difficult to diagnose. Due to the complexity of neural and vascular structure, surgical treatment of thoracic pathology is challenging. Endoscopic spine surgery is an emerging minimally invasive surgical option. Based on wide experience on the cervical and lumbar spine, an endoscopic approach for the thoracic pathology can be performed beyond the learning curve. Transforaminal approach for thoracic disc herniation, endoscopic unilateral approach, and bilateral decompression for thoracic stenosis have been reported as favorable and safe surgical options. In the present study, the authors described the detailed surgical procedure as well as tips and tricks.
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