Author(s): Fessler RG, Sturgill M
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Thoracic discectomy has evolved over the last 60 years from resection through standard laminectomy, to posterolateral procedures to open thoracotomy and finally thoracoscopy. Comparison of relative morbidity and mortality between these approaches is now possible. METHODS: Peer-reviewed publications reporting clinical data relating to thoracic discectomy, and which provided sufficient information to enable adequate assessment of mortality and morbidity were reviewed. These articles were determined via review of the results of MedLine searches and articles gathered through compilation of references from those articles. RESULTS: Articles reviewed spanned a period of over 60 years. Surgical procedures used for thoracic discectomy included laminectomy, pediculectomy, costotransversectomy, lateral extracavitary, transverse arthropediculectomy, anterolateral thoracotomy, and thoracoscopy. Complications included death, paralysis, paresis, loss of bowel and/or bladder control, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, atelectasis, compression fracture, infection, pleural tear, bowel obstruction, and anesthesia dolorosa. Mortality dropped to nearly zero after development of anterior and posterolateral approaches. Morbidity seems relatively similar between most procedures other than laminectomy. Not enough procedures have been reported using thoracoscopy to adequately assess its morbidity. CONCLUSION: Comparison of relative rates of morbidity and mortality between surgical approaches to thoracic discectomy suggest that laminectomy does not provide adequate access for the safe removal of these lesions. Choice of approach among the alternatives should be based on the evacuation of the herniated fragment and experience of the surgeon. Thoracoscopy, although promising, has not had sufficient time for evaluation of morbidity to make definite statements regarding its safety.
This article was published in Surg Neurol
and referenced in Journal of Spine