Surgical treatment of intraforaminal/extraforaminal lumbar disc herniations

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:1273–1281

Several disc disease nomenclatures and approaches for LDH exist. The traditional midline bonedestructive procedures together with approaches requiring extreme muscular retraction are being replaced by muscle sparing, targeted, stability-preserving surgical routes. The increasing speculation on LDHs and the innovative corridors described to treat them have lead to an extensive production of papers frequently treating the same topic but adopting different terminologies and reporting contradictory results.

Methods The review of such literature somehow confounding gave us the chance to regroup by surgical corridors the vast amount of approaches for LDH differently renamed over time. Likewise, LDHs were simplified in intra-foraminal (ILDH), extra-foraminal (ELDH), and intra−/extra-foraminal (IELDH) in relation to precise anatomical boundaries and extent of bulging disc.

Results Through the analysis of the papers, it was possible to identify ideal surgical corridors for ILDHs, ELDHs, and IELDHs, distinguishing for each approach the exposure provided and the technical advantages/disadvantages in terms of muscle trauma, biomechanical stability, and nerve root preservation. A significant disproportion was noted between studies discussing traditional midline approaches or variants of the posterolateral route and those investigating pros and cons of simple or combined alternative corridors. Although rarely discussed, these latter represent valuable strategies particularly for the challenging IELDHs, thanks to the optimal compromise between herniation exposure and bone-muscle preservation.

Conclusions The integration of adequate mastery of traditional approaches together with a greater confidence through unfamiliar surgical corridors can improve the development of combined mini-invasive procedures, which seem promising for future targeted LDH excisions.