No clinically relevant difference between surgical methods for sciatica and herniated disc
Surgical techniques for sciatica due to herniated disc, a systematic reviewEur Spine J. 2012 Nov;21(11):2232-51. doi: 10.1007/s00586-012-2422-9. Epub 2012 Jul 20
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Dr. Wilco Jacobs discusses his systematic review assessing surgical techniques for sciatica due to herniated disc.
This systematic review and meta-analysis included 16 studies comparing surgical techniques for patients with sciatica due to disc herniation. Results demonstrated that microscopic discectomy resulted in reduced postoperative leg pain, shorter hospitalization, shorter incision length and longer operation time than conventional discectomy. Mixed results were found from studies comparing tubular discectomy and microscopic discectomy.
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Detsky AS, Naylor CD, O'Rourke K, McGeer AJ, L'Abbé KA. J Clin Epidemiol. 1992;45:255-65
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Why was this study needed now?
Sciatica is usually treated with conservative care; however, surgery is considered when nonsurgical treatment fails to reduce the symptoms after at least 6 weeks. Microscopic discectomy is the most common method of surgical treatment, and it can be done using a microscope or with the use of other magnifying tools. Since the best method of discectomy has not been determined, this review aimed to compare the different techniques with respect to intraoperative and clinical outcomes in patients with sciatica and disc herniation.
What was the principal research question?
Which method of discectomy is most effective with regards to clinical and intra-operative outcomes in patients with sciatica and lumbar disc herniation?
What were the important findings?
- According to 4 studies, microscopic discectomy resulted in less leg pain than open discectomy (95 % CI 0.57-3.44; p=0.006)
- 6 studies indicated that microscopic discectomy led to an increase in operation time when compared to open discectomy (pooled result: 12.2 min; 95% CI 2.20-22.3; p = 0.02)
- According to 2 studies, microscopic discectomy resulted in a shorter incision length than open discectomy
- Patients from 1 study who received micro-endoscopic discectomy (MED) had a significantly shorter hospital stay (3.6 vs. 5.9 days) and less intra-operative blood loss (88 vs 190 ml) than those who received open discectomy; However, the MED group had a longer operation time than the open discectomy group (109 vs. 72 min)
- 1 study indicated that tubular discectomy resulted in faster improvement in pain than conventional discectomy, whereas another study demonstrated the opposite at 2 years. Tubular discectomy also resulted in less post-operative analgesic consumption (1 study), shorter incision length (3 studies), shorter length of hospital stay (2 of 4 studies), and shorter operation time (2 of 3 studies) than conventional discectomy.
- 1 study with high risk of bias indicated that there was no difference between percutaneous endoscopic discectomy and microscopic discectomy in clinical outcomes.
- According to 1 study, sequestrectomy did not differ from standard microdiscectomy with respect to back and leg pain or in quality of life at 2 years.
What should I remember most?
There were few differences between open discectomy, microscopic discectomy, and tubular discectomy. Some studies reported less leg pain, shorter hospitalization or longer operation time with microdiscectomy compared to open discectomy.
How will this affect the care of my patients?
Conclusions regarding the most effective treatment for sciatica and lumbar disc herniation are still unclear, and further research is needed to establish superiority of one surgical technique. Further research using larger sample sizes is required in order to investigate the effectiveness and costs of the various methods of discectomy.
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