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Neurosurgery. 2002 Nov;51(5 Suppl):S37-45.

Minimally invasive cervical microendoscopic foraminotomy: an initial clinical experience.

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Institute for Spine Care, Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch, Rush Presbyterian Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.



We have previously reported the feasibility of using the microendoscopic foraminotomy (MEF) technique in a cadaveric study. We now report our initial clinical experience with this novel technique.


From March 1998 to January 2001, we prospectively used the MEF technique in 25 patients with cervical root compression from either foraminal stenosis or disc herniation. The patients' demographic, clinical presentation, surgical, and outcome data were recorded. Another 26 patients treated via open cervical laminoforaminotomy were used for comparison.


MEF cases involved less blood loss (138 versus 246 ml per level). MEF patients recovered more rapidly, had a shorter postoperative stay (20 versus 68 hours), and needed fewer narcotics (11 versus 40 equivalents). There were two durotomies after MEF. Overall, our initial experience with the MEF procedure yielded symptomatic improvement for approximately 87 to 92% of patients, depending on which symptom was analyzed. After MEF (mean follow-up, 16 mo; minimum follow-up, 1 year), patients with radiculopathy experienced resolution of their symptoms in 54%, improvement in 38%, and no change in 8% of cases. For open surgery, radiculopathy resolved in 48%, improved in 40%, and remained unchanged in 12%. For neck pain, the MEF results were 40% resolved, 47% improved, and 13% unchanged. Open results for neck pain were 33% resolved, 56% improved, and 11% unchanged. Overall, there was no significant difference in outcomes between the groups.


The MEF technique yielded clinical results equivalent to those of the open surgical group as well as to those described in the literature. MEF patients, however, had less blood loss, shorter hospitalizations, and a much lower postoperative pain medication requirement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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