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J Neurosurg Sci. 2013 Jun;57(2):123-7.

Minimally invasive transmuscular approach for the treatment of lumbar herniated disc: far lateral lumbar disc herniation: a clinical study. Applications for cervical and thoracic disc herniation.

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  • 1Service of Neurosugery, CHU La Timone, Marseille, France.



In this study, we are using a recently developed method: a minimally invasive retractor system and an operating microscope to treat far lateral lumbar herniated disc. This method decreases tissue dissection and blood loss, and improves postoperative recovery.


This is a retrospective study of 46 patients, there was 25 female and 21 male. They all underwent minimal invasive surgery. The average age was 56 years old (19-83 years). Lumbar disc herniation is a common pathology. Far lateral disc herniation accounts for 2.6% to 11.2% of all lumbar disc herniation. A few surgical techniques have been describes to treat this type of disc pathology. All patients were operated under general anesthesia. The fluoroscopic guidance was absolutely necessary. A 12-15 mm skin incision was made on the side of the disc herniation (30 mm from the midline). Then, we inserted a tubular retractor system (muscle splitting approach) followed by a 14 mm diameter-working channel. Under operating microscope the pars interarticularis was dreamed to expose the nerve root and the disc. After removing the intertransverse ligament, we removed the herniated disc.


The average time of surgery was 55 min. The operating time decreased with the experience of the surgical team. Postoperatively the radicular pain was around 2 (using an analogical visual scale), over 7 preoperatively. The length of hospitalization was 3 days. There were no complications in our study. The average follow-up was 2 years (6-36 months). There was no complication, no postoperative infection.


This technique combines the advantages of endoscopic surgery and microscope guided surgery (3D vision) and provides good functional results in this study.

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