Thoracic disc herniations can be surgically treated with a number of different techniques and approaches. However, surgical outcomes comparing the various techniques are rarely reported in the literature. The authors describe a minimally invasive technique to approach thoracic disc herniations via a transpedicular route with the use of tubular retractors and microscope visualization. This technique provides a safe method to identify the thoracic disc space and perform a decompression with minimal paraspinal soft tissue disruption. The authors compare the results of this approach with clinical results after open transpedicular discectomy.
The authors performed a retrospective cohort study comparing results in 11 patients with symptomatic thoracic disc herniations treated with either open posterolateral (4 patients) or mini-open transpedicular discectomy (7 patients). Hospital stay, blood loss, modified Prolo score, and Frankel score were used as outcome variables.
Patients who underwent mini-open transpedicular discectomy had less blood loss and showed greater improvement in modified Prolo scores (p = 0.024 and p = 0.05, respectively) than those who underwent open transpedicular discectomy at the time of early follow-up within 1 year of surgery. However, at an average of 18 months of follow-up, the Prolo score difference between the 2 surgical groups was not statistically significant. There were no major or minor surgical complications in the patients who received the minimally invasive technique.
The mini-open transpedicular discectomy for thoracic disc herniations results in better modified Prolo scores at early postoperative intervals and less blood loss during surgery than open posterolateral discectomy. The authors' technique is described in detail and an intraoperative video is provided.