Implementation of Transforaminal Endoscopic Lumbar Sequestrectomy in a German University Hospital Setting: A Long and Rocky Road
Central European Neurosurgery
Objective Microsurgical diskectomy/sequestrectomy is the standard procedure for the surgical treatment of lumbar disk herniations. The transforaminal endoscopic sequestrectomy technique is a minimally invasive alternative with potential advantages such as minimal blood loss and tissue damage, as well as early mobilization of the patient. We report the implementation of this technique in a German university hospital setting. Methods One single surgeon performed transforaminal endoscopic
... endoscopic sequestrectomy from February 2013 to July 2016 for lumbar disk herniation in 44 patients. Demographic as well as perioperative, clinical, and radiologic data were analyzed from electronic records. Furthermore, we investigated complications, intraoperative change of the procedure to microsurgery, and reoperations. The postoperative course was analyzed using the Macnab criteria, supplemented by a questionnaire for follow-up. Pre- and postoperative magnetic resonance imaging volumetric analyses were performed to assess the radiologic efficacy of the technique. Results Our study population had a median age of 52 years. The median follow-up was 15 months, and the median length of hospital stay was 4 days. Median duration of surgery was 100 minutes with a median blood loss of 50 mL. Surgery was most commonly performed at the L4–L5 level (63%) and in caudally migrated disk herniations (44%). In six patients, surgery was performed for recurrent disk herniations. The procedure had to be changed to conventional microsurgery in four patients. We observed no major complications. Minor complications occurred in six patients, and in four patients a reoperation was performed. Furthermore, a significantly lower Oswestry Disability Index score (p = 0.03), a lower Short Form 8 Health Survey (SF-8) score (p = 0.001), a lower visual analog scale (VAS) lower back pain score (p = 0.03) and VAS leg pain score (p = 0.0008) at the 12-month follow-up were observed in comparison with the preoperative examination. In MRI volumetry, we detected a median postoperative volume reduction of the disk herniation of 57.1% (p = 0.02). Conclusions The transforaminal endoscopic sequestrectomy can be safely implemented in a university hospital setting in selected patients with primary and recurrent lumbar disk herniations, and it leads to good clinical and radiologic results. However, learning curve, caseload, and residents' microsurgical training requirements clearly affect the implementation process.