Use of ‘‘inside-out’’ technique for direct visualization of a vacuum vertically unstable intervertebral disc during routine lumbar endoscopic transforaminal decompression—a correlative study of clinical outcomes and the prognostic value of lumbar radiographs




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International journal of spine surgery, 2211-4599, Vol. 13, Nro. 5, 2019, p. 399-414

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Background: The purpose of this study was to record the frequency of lumbar intervertebral disc vacuum phenomenon on routine lumbar plain films taken prior to transforaminal endoscopic decompression surgery for sciatica-type leg and back pain and to correlate it with visualized intradiscal pathology and clinical outcomes. Methods: A prospective case series study of 200 consecutive patients with an average mean follow-up of 41.85 months who underwent lumbar endoscopic transforaminal decompression at 236 lumbar levels was conducted. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of vacuum phenomenon on preoperative x-ray to predict the presence of an empty vacuum disc found during transforaminal microdiscectomy using the ‘‘inside-out’’ approach were calculated using the YESSe technique. Clinical outcomes were assessed by both Macnab criteria and visual analog score (VAS) reduction. Results: Of the 200 patients evaluated, 124 (62%) were deemed to have a vacuum disc on intraoperative probing using the ‘‘inside-out’’ technique. During needle insertion the more severely degenerative discs are met with negative pressures manifested by an air discogram. According to Macnab criteria, all patients who also had extruded disc herniations had excellent results (8 of 200), with the mean VAS decreasing from 6.1 6 2.6 preoperatively to 1.9 6 1.4 at the final follow-up (P , .01). This indicates a more severely degenerative disc causing nonspecific back pain due to lack of anterior column support from the intervertebral disc, accentuating foraminal stenosis. Patients with contained disc herniations (62 of 200) had excellent and good results 82.2% of the time. The mean VAS decreased from 6.9 6 1.7 preoperatively to 2.2 6 1.1 at final follow-up (P , .01). This identifies the disc as a contributing factor in low back pain. It can also identify the disc and annulus in combination with foraminal stenosis as a contributing factor. In the spinal stenosis group (130 of 200), 81.5% of patients had excellent to good results, and the mean VAS decreased from 6.3 6 1.5 preoperatively to 2.1 6 1.2 at final follow-up (P , .01). An analysis of lumbar x-ray vacuum phenomenon in patients with visualized vacuum disc showed true-positive (35 patients) and false-negative (89 patients), compared with an x-ray negative grading in patients without intraoperatively visualized vacuum disc of false-positive (2 patients); and true-negative (74 patients); this allowed for calculation of sensitivity (28.2%), specificity (97.4%), and positive predictive value (94.6%) of preoperative diagnostic x-ray in relation to intraoperatively visualized presence of the vacuum disc during subsequent endoscopic decompression surgery. Direct endoscopic visualization of the inside of the vacuum disc revealed longitudinal fissuring of the intervertebral disc as the most common finding in 77 of the 124 patients (62.1%) with a vacuum disc. Cavitation with delamination was the second most common observation (21 patients). Fair outcomes were associated with cavitation and delamination of the intervertebral disc from the endplates (P , .0001). Conclusions: A vacuum phenomenon seen on lumbar x-rays is highly specific for a source of one component that is actually a multiple source of nonspecific common back pain. A vacuum disc being found during ‘‘inside-out’’ transforaminal discectomy actually encompasses the disc, annulus, and foraminal stenosis as a multifactorial source of nonspecific common back pain. Further studies of better prognosticators of failed endoscopic transforaminal discectomy are required and are underway by the coauthors.

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Disc vacuum phenomenon, Lumbar endoscopic transforaminal decompression


Informes de casos
Dolor de la región lumbar