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Photomedicine and Laser Surgery

Salvage Operation for Persistent Low Back Pain and Sciatica Induced by Percutaneous Laser Disc Decompression Performed at Outside Institution: Correlation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Intraoperative and Pathological Findings


by K. Takeno, S. Kobayashi, T. Yonezawa, K. Hayakawa, Y. Hachiya, K. Uchida, K. Negoro, G. Timbihurira, H. Baba ( Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Medicine, Fukui University School of Medicine, Japan )



Objectives

We identified several problems associated with percutaneous lumbar disc decompression (PLDD) based on a study of patients who required salvage operations for complications after undergoing PLDD at an outside institution.

Background Data

PLDD has been performed as a new treatment for intervertebral disc herniation in recent years, and its safety and effectiveness are in the process of being established. Because the procedure is simple to perform under local anesthesia, inappropriate irradiation and application to patients for whom it is not indicated have sometimes resulted in a poor outcome and serious complications.

Methods

The patients comprised 10 with lumbar disc herniation and three with lumbar spondylolisthesis. We analyzed the magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and operative findings as well as the pathological features of surgically obtained disc specimens and studied their relationships with the clinical outcomes of the operations.

Results

Initial examination of all patients at our hospital showed that PLDD had no effect on low back pain or sciatica. In patients who showed MR signal changes in the end-plate, the pathological examination revealed extensive necrosis of cartilage and bone. During salvage operations, severe adhesion of herniated masses to nerve roots was often observed, with carbonized disc tissue surrounding the nerve roots and might have their nerve root injured thermally.

Conclusion

PLDD is associated with significant risk of disc, end-plate, and nerve root injuries, contrary to the general belief that the procedure is minimally invasive. Our findings highlight the need for careful diagnosis and sufficient technical skill when selecting PLDD as a treatment option.


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