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J Neurosurg. 2003 Oct;99(3 Suppl):247-50.

One-level one-sided lumbar disc surgery with and without microscopic assistance: 1-year outcome in 114 consecutive patients.

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Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, Süleyman Demirel University, Isparta, Turkey.



The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes following macrodiscectomy and microsurgery for one-level one-sided lumbar disc excision.


The authors prospectively studied 114 consecutive patients who underwent microdiscectomy (Group A, 63 patients [36 men, 27 women]) and macrodiscectomy (Group B, 51 patients [29 men, 22 women]) for one-level unilateral first-time lumbar disc herniation. Microdiscectomy was considered to involve a small incision with removal or opening of the ligamentum flavum, no or minimal bone excision, and use of the operating microscope to remove the disc material. Laminectomy combined with macrodiscectomy was defined as any operation requiring a large opening in or complete removal of the unilateral lamina. Diagnosis was confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging. A 1-year follow-up investigation was also conducted. Relief of radicular pain, improvement in muscle power, and changes in sensory and/or reflex abnormality were documented. Assessment of outcome was performed using the modified Stauffer-Coventry criteria. Good or excellent results were demonstrated in 90% of Group A and 89% of Group B patients (p > 0.05). One patient in each group underwent reoperation. There was infection over the fascia in two Group A patients. Mean operative time (+/- standard deviation) was 54 +/- 5.65 minutes in Group A and 25 +/- 7.07 minutes in Group B (p < 0.01). Median length of the incision was 4 and 6 cm in Group A and Group B, respectively (p < 0.05). The length of postoperative inpatient stay was 1 day in both groups (p > 0.05). Patients in the microsurgery-treated group returned to work in less time: 85% of Group A and 58% of Group B patients returned to their work within 4 weeks (p < 0.001). Some patients in each group (15% in Group A and 45% in Group B) needed narcotic analgesic medication at least twice between the 1st month and 1st year after the surgery (p < 0.001).


Microdiscectomy allows the surgeon good visualization and is less traumatic to the involved tissues. Interestingly, the results of this study indicated that microsurgery does not reduce hospitalization time, nor does it improve the overall surgery-related outcome. The main differences between the two procedures were length of the incision and operative time. The author found that lumbar microdiscectomy allows patients earlier return to work and/or normal life with less reliance on postoperative narcotic analgesic agents.

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