Current Issue - March/April - Vol 22 Issue 2


  1. 2019;22;187-198Using Percutaneous Endoscopic Outside-In Technique to Treat Selected Patients with Refractory Discogenic Low Back Pain
    Prospective Study
    Keng-Chang Liu, MD, Shyi-Kuen Yang, PhD, Bor-Rung Ou, PhD, Min-Hong Hsieh, MD, Chih-En Tseng, MD, Chia-wei Chang, MD, and Shih-Hao Chen, MD.

BACKGROUND: Controversy is not uncommon in the diagnosis of discogenic low back pain (DLBP) and in the identification of the location of the pain source for the symptomatic disc in patients with DLBP. Various techniques, from minimally invasive procedures to fusion surgery, are used to treat chronic DLBP, but the clinical outcomes are variable. Percutaneous endoscopic discectomy by transforaminal or interlaminar approach is considered to be an effective method to treat DLBP, but the evidence is limited; the lack of clear evidence may be associated with patient selection and surgical technique.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the clinical results of percutaneous endoscopic treatment for annular tear in selected patients with DLBP by using the outside-in technique.

STUDY DESIGN: A prospective study and retrospective observations were performed on 24 consecutive patients with a minimum 2 years of follow-up. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Buddhist Dalin Tzu-Chi General Hospital Foundation (IRB number: 10504004) and written informed consent was obtained from all patients.

SETTING: This research took place within an interventional pain management and spine practice.

METHODS: Twenty-four consecutive patients with single-level DLBP diagnosed by positive high-intensity zone on magnetic resonance imaging, positive provocative discography, and block test underwent a percutaneous endoscopic procedure from January 2014 to December 2015. The transforaminal approach or interlaminar approach was selected according to the location of the annular tear. The torn lesions were visualized directly and treated by puncture and debridement of the inflammatory tissues from the outer annulus fibrosus to the inner nucleus using the outside-in technique. The Visual Analog Scale (VAS) score and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score were evaluated before and after surgery. The clinical global outcomes were assessed on the basis of modified MacNab criteria.

RESULTS: These patients included 13 men and 11 women with a mean age of 43.8 years (range, 32-55 yrs). There were 15 lesion levels at L4/L5 and 9 lesion levels at L5/S1. Among them, 15 levels were accessed by transforaminal approach and 9 levels by interlaminar approach. No serious complications were observed during the follow-up periods. All except 2 patients experienced significant symptomatic and functional improvements at the 2-year follow-up with a success rate of 91.7%.

LIMITATIONS: Significant limitations include nonrandom format and small sample size. Future research may focus on controlled prospective studies with larger sample sizes and long-term follow-up to examine the validity of this protocol.

CONCLUSIONS: The percutaneous endoscopic procedure provides a safe and effective treatment for selected patients with DLBP. The outside-in technique allows the surgeons to visualize and treat the torn or inflammatory lesions directly, and the success rate is high at 2 years follow-up.

KEY WORDS: Transforaminal, interlaminar, outside-in technique, endoscopic discectomy, discogenic low back pain