The aim of the study was to investigate the safety and efficacy of minimally invasive tubular microdiscectomy for the treatment of recurrent lumbar disc herniation (LDH). As opposed to endoscopic techniques, namely microendoscopic and endoscopic transforaminal discectomy, this microscopically assisted technique has never been used for the treatment of recurrent LDH.
Thirty consecutive patients who underwent minimally invasive tubular microdiscectomy for recurrent LDH were included in the study. The preoperative and postoperative visual analog scale (VAS) scores for pain, the clinical outcome according to modified Macnab criteria, and complications were analyzed retrospectively. The minimum follow-up was 1.5 years. Student t-test with paired samples was used for the statistical comparison of pre- and postoperative VAS scores. A p value < 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.
The mean operating time was 90 ± 35 minutes. The VAS score for leg pain was significantly reduced from 5.9 ± 2.1 preoperatively to 1.7 ± 1.3 postoperatively (p < 0.001). The overall success rate (excellent or good outcome according to Macnab criteria) was 90%. Incidental durotomy occurred in 5 patients (16.7%) without neurological consequences, CSF fistula, or negative influence to the clinical outcome. Instability occurred in 2 patients (6.7%).
The clinical outcome of minimally invasive tubular microdiscectomy is comparable to the reported success rates of other minimally invasive techniques. The dural tear rate is not associated to higher morbidity or worse outcome. The technique is an equally effective and safe treatment option for recurrent LDH.