Study Design: Retrospective review. Objective: Review clinical outcomes for myelopathic patients undergoing transthoracic discectomies for central calcified herniations. Summary of Backround Data: Ideal surgical treatment for thoracic disc herniation is controversial due to variations in patient presentation, pathology, and possible surgical approach. Although discectomy may lead to improvements in neurologic function, it can be complicated by approach-related morbidity, especially for ventral calcified disc herniations. Review of clinical outcomes for myelopathic patients undergoing transthoracic discectomies for central calcified herniations was completed, paying special attention to neurologic status and procedure-related complications. Methods: Between 2002 and 2007, 27 myelopathic patients were treated with 28 transthoracic surgeries for centrally located symptomatic calcified thoracic disc herniations over the last 5 years at a single institution. Demographic data, details of surgery, preoperative and postoperative Nurick and American Spinal Injury Association scores, length of stay, complications, and follow-up data were collected in all patients. Results: A total of 27 patients, 8 male (30%) and 19 female (70%) with an average age of 52.3 years (range: 19 to 72) underwent 28 thoracotomies. All had myelopathy whereas 6/27 also had radicular pain syndromes. Fourteen patients had anterior instrumentation alone, 3 had anterior and posterior instrumentation, and 1 had posterior instrumentation alone. Average Nurick grade was 2.5 preoperatively and 1.4 postoperatively. Of note, American Spinal Injury Association scores improved postoperatively in 12/27 patients (10D to 10E; 2C to 2D), remained unchanged in 13/27 (11E to 11E, 2D to 2D), and worsened in 2/27 (2D to 2C). Average length of stay was 7 days (range: 3 to 15). All patients required chest tube placement with average duration of 4 days (range: 1 to 7). Major complications occurred in 6 cases (21.4%) over an average follow-up of 12 months (range: 1 to 40 mo). Conclusions: Thoracotomy for treatment of centrally located thoracic disc herniations is associated with improvement in or stabilization of myelopathic symptoms in the majority of patients with an acceptable rate of complications. Interestingly, most patients with weakness improved in strength (12/16, 75%), no patients with normal strength developed new weakness (10/10, 100%), and only 2 patients had new weakness noted postoperatively (7.4%).
- Disc herniation
- Thoracic spine
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Clinical Neurology