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J Neurosurg Spine. 2004 Jul;1(1):58-63.

Thoracic microendoscopic discectomy.

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Minimally Invasion Spine Surgery and Spine Program, Michigan Head and Spine Institute, Southfield, Michigan 48075, USA.



Various approaches exist for the treatment of thoracic disc herniation. Anterior approaches facilitate ventral exposure but place the intrathoracic contents at risk. Posterolateral approaches require extensive muscle dissection that adds to the risk of postoperative morbidity. The authors have developed a novel posterolateral, minimally invasive thoracic microendoscopic discectomy (TMED) technique that provides an approach to the thoracic spine which is associated with less morbidity.


Seven patients 23 to 54 years old with nine disc herniations underwent TMED. All lesions were soft lateral or midline thoracic disc herniations. Under fluoroscopic guidance with the patient positioned prone, the authors used a muscle dilation approach and the procedure was performed with endoscopic visualization through a tubular retractor. Based on a modified Prolo Scale, five patients experienced excellent results, one good, and one fair. No case required conversion to an open procedure. The mean operative time was 1.7 hours per level, and estimated blood loss was 111 ml per level. Hospital stays were short, and no complications occurred.


The TMED is safe, effective, and provides a minimally invasive posterolateral alternative for treatment of thoracic disc herniation without the morbidity associated with traditional approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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