Surgical efficacy of minimally invasive thoracic discectomy

Ali M. Elhadi, Aqib H. Zehri, Hasan A. Zaidi, Kaith K. Almefty, Mark C. Preul, Nicholas Theodore, Curtis A. Dickman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We aimed to determine the clinical indications and surgical outcomes for thoracoscopic discectomy. Thoracic disc disease is a rare degenerative process. Thoracoscopic approaches serve to minimize tissue injury during the approach, but critics argue that this comes at the cost of surgical efficacy. Current reports in the literature are limited to small institutional patient series. We systematically identified all English language articles on thoracoscopic discectomy with at least two patients, published from 1994 to 2013 on MEDLINE, Science Direct, and Google Scholar. We analyzed 12 articles that met the inclusion criteria, five prospective and seven retrospective studies comprising 545 surgical patients. The overall complication rate was 24% (n = 129), with reported complications ranging from intercostal neuralgia (6.1%), atelectasis (2.8%), and pleural effusion (2.6%), to more severe complications such as pneumonia (0.8%), pneumothorax (1.3%), and venous thrombosis (0.2%). The average reported postoperative follow-up was 20.5 months. Complete resolution of symptoms was reported in 79% of patients, improvement with residual symptoms in 10.2%, no change in 9.6%, and worsening in 1.2%. The minimally invasive endoscopic approaches to the thoracic spine among selected patients demonstrate excellent clinical efficacy and acceptable complication rates, comparable to the open approaches. Disc herniations confined to a single level, with small or no calcifications, are ideal for such an approach, whereas patients with calcified discs adherent to the dura would benefit from an open approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1708-1713
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Discectomy
  • Endoscopy
  • Minimally invasive
  • Thoracic disc
  • Thoracoscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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