The aim of this study was to describe patient radiation exposure during single-level transforaminal endoscopic lumbar discectomy procedures at levels L2–5 and L5–S1.
Radiation exposure was monitored in 151 consecutive patients undergoing single-level transforaminal endoscopic lumbar discectomy procedures. Two groups were studied: patients undergoing procedures at the L4–5 level or above and those undergoing an L5–S1 procedure.
For the discectomy procedures at L4–5 and above, the average duration of fluoroscopy was 38.4 seconds and the mean calculated patient radiation exposure dose was 1.5 mSv. For the L5–S1 procedures, average fluoroscopy time was 54.6 seconds and the mean calculated radiation exposure dose was 2.1 mSv. The average patient radiation exposure dose among these cases represents a 3.5-fold decrease compared with the senior surgeon's first 100 cases.
Transforaminal lumbar endoscopic discectomy can be used as a minimally invasive technique for the treatment of lumbar radiculopathy in the setting of a herniated lumbar disc without the significant concern of exposing the patient to harmful doses of radiation. One caveat is that both the surgeon and the patient are likely to be exposed to higher doses of radiation during a surgeon's early experience in minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery.