Laser-assisted paraspinal microdiscectomy for far lateral lumbar disc herniation (LDH) enables direct access to the foraminal or far lateral zone with minimal tissue injury and preserves facet joints, thereby preventing postoperative segmental instability. We demonstrated the clinical outcomes of this technique and discussed the pros and cons of laser use in lumbar disc surgery.
The microdiscectomy technique for L5-S1 far lateral zone may be difficult due to the limited surgical field with narrowed disc space, hypertrophied facet, and sacral ala. Thus, we used carbon dioxide (CO2) laser for sophisticated decompression.
Eighty-four patients who were treated with microdiscectomy for far lateral LDH at the L5-S1 level were evaluated. Among them, 40 patients were treated using CO2 laser-assisted microdiscectomy, and the remaining 44 patients using conventional microdiscectomy. Perioperative and postoperative data were compared between the two groups with 2 years of follow-up. Clinical outcomes were assessed using the visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry disability index (ODI), and modified Macnab criteria.
VAS and ODI significantly improved in both groups. An excellent or good outcome was rated in 80% and 77.3% of the laser and conventional group, respectively. There was no significant difference in global outcomes. However, hospital stay and time to return to work were significantly shorter in the laser group (p < 0.05).
CO2 laser-assisted paraspinal microdiscectomy is effective for treating far lateral LDH. The pinpoint laser scalpel enables delicate and complete decompression in a limited surgical field with minimal tissue trauma.
far lateral; foraminal; laser; lumbar disc herniation; microscopic.