AbstractOBJECTIVE:Extraforaminal disc herniations today are operated on via the so-called lateral approach. Clinical experience has shown that in contrast to levels L2/3-L4/5, this approach may become extremely difficult at the L5-S1 level. According to new microanatomic studies, the previous lateral approaches at this level often do not allow access to the neuroforamen without partial or total destruction of the L5 - S 1 facet joint. Postoperatively, 1 this may lead to joint irritation with consecutive low back and pseudoradicular pain. To preserve the facet joint, 1 a new approach was developed based on an anatomic study.METHODS:The approach was first considered with the help of bone specimens including ilium, vertebra 5, and sacrum. Thereafter, lumhar maceration specimens were prepared leaving ligaments, intervertebral discs, and joints intact. From these specimens, bony and ligamentous landmarks were deduced. Finally, the approach was tested on seven cadavers. Subsequently, the approach was performed on 13 patients and the intraoperative findings, the clinical feasibility, and the postoperative results were analyzed.APPROACH:After a transverse skin incision above the dorsal curvature of the ilium, the paravertebral muscles are dissected from the ilium medially toward the spinous process. Lateral from the apophyseal joint, a canal is drilled through the spongiosa of the sacrum. Primarily, a thin layer of inner cortex is spared to protect the content of the neuroforamen. Subsequently, it can easily be removed with the dissector to enter the extraforaminal space. In the depth of the drilled canal, the nerve root is found, because it is fixed at the sacrum near the disc space by the anterior lumbosacral ligaments. Riding on the nerve root, the intertransverse ligament and muscle can be removed with the punch. It is then possible to see the neuroforamen and extraforaminal space in front of the joint. Free fragments and contained discs can then easily he found and removed.CONCLUSION:Using this new approach, the L5-S1 joint remains intact. Space for instrumental manipulations is created in areas not essential for joint function. For this procedure, newly defined anatomic landmarks, such as j the ileolumbar ligament, upper edge of the sacrum, lateral rim of the apophyseal joint, and para-articular notch, guide the operative route. In accordance with the preliminary anatomic studies, this approach was successfully used in 13 patients, and we think that it is a promising alternative that helps to preserve joint function and dorsal root ganglion integrity.
Neurosurgery – Oxford University Press
Published: Oct 1, 1998
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