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Lumbar extraforaminal decompression: A technical note and retrospective study looking at potential complications as an outpatient procedure

Justin W. Miller, MD1,2 Rick C. Sasso, MD1,2

1Indiana Spine Group, Indianapolis, IN 2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN



Lumbar disc herniation and stenosis that results in compression of a nerve root lateral to the foramen is defined as extraforaminal. In recent years the recognition of such pathology has increased with technology and greater awareness. Various approaches and techniques have been developed for extraforaminal decompression in the lumbar region. The purpose of this study was two fold: 1) Determine the safety of treating patients operatively via a paramedian muscle splitting approach on an outpatient basis, and 2) Highlight the technical aspects of the approach to the extraforaminal region.


One hundred consecutive extraforaminal decompressions were performed from 1992 to 2007 by a single surgeon. A retrospective review was performed consisting of chart reviews. Summary statistics and the Pierson Chi-square test were used to analyze the data. The primary outcome measure was the need for hospital admission or readmission following surgical decompression.


Seven of 100 patients (7%) were required to remain in the hospital for twenty-three hour observation due to Medicare requirements. Five (5%) of the patients originally scheduled for an outpatient procedure were converted to inpatient status due to postoperative pain. All were released within 2 days (average 1.25 days). Only one (1%) patient was readmitted for urinary retention that resolved without incident. There was no significant difference (P = 0.137) in complication rate between our control and those that underwent extraforaminal decompression.


Extraforaminal lumbar decompression as an outpatient procedure can be done safely without the need for hospital admission.

Extraforaminal, Nerve decompression, Wiltse, Lumbar
Volume 5 Issue 1