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Transforaminal Endoscopic Lumbar Decompression & Foraminoplasty: A 10 Year prospective survivability outcome study of the treatment of foraminal stenosis and failed back surgery.

Martin TN Knight, MD, FRCS, MBBS,1 Ingrid Jago, RGN ONC RNT Cert Ed FETC,1 Christopher Norris, PhD MSc MCSP,2 Lynne Midwinter MCSP,3 Christopher Boynes BEd (Hons) PE, MCSP, MACPSM, MSOM, MAACP, Lic Acu, HPC4

1The Spinal Foundation, UK 2Norris Associates, UK 3Physio & Therapies, UK 4Physioactive, UK



Conventional diagnosis between axial and foraminal stenosis is suboptimal and long-term outcomes limited to posterior decompression. Aware state Transforaminal Endoscopic Lumbar Decompression and Foraminoplasty (TELDF) offers a direct aware state means of localizing and treating neuro-claudicant back pain, referred pain and weakness associated with stenosis failing to respond to conventional rehabilitation, pain management or surgery. This prospective survivability study examines the outcomes 10 years after TELDF in patients with foraminal stenosis arising from degeneration or failed back surgery.


For 10 years prospective data were collected on 114 consecutive patients with multilevel spondylosis and neuro-claudicant back pain, referred pain and weakness with or without failed back surgery whose symptoms had failed to respond to conventional rehabilitation and pain management and who underwent TELDF. The level responsible for the predominant presenting symptoms of foraminal stenosis, determined on clinical grounds, MRI and or CT scans, was confirmed by transforaminal probing and discography. Patients underwent TELDF at the spinal segment at which the predominant presenting symptoms were reproduced. Those that required treatment at an additional segment were excluded. Outcomes were assessed by postal questionnaire with failures being examined by the independent authors using the Visual Analogue Pain Scale (VAPS), the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and the Prolo Activity Score.


Cohort integrity was 69%. 79 patients were available for evaluation after removal of the deceased (12), untraceable (17) and decliners (6) from the cohort.

VAP scores improved from a pre-operative mean of 7.3 to 2.4 at year 10. The ODI improved from a mean of 58.5 at baseline to 17.5 at year 10. 72% of reviewed patients fulfilled the definition of an “Excellent” or “Good Clinical Impact” at review using the Spinal Foundation Outcome Score. Based on the Prolo scale, 61 patients (77%) were able to return and continue in full or part-time work or retirement activity post-TELDF. Complications of TELDF were limited to transient nerve irritation, which affected 19% of the cohort for 2 – 4 weeks. TELDF was equally beneficial in those with failed back surgery.


TELDF is a beneficial intervention for the long-term treatment of severely disabled patients with neuro-claudicant symptoms arising from spinal or foraminal stenosis with a dural diameter of more than 3mm, who have failed to respond to conventional rehabilitation or chronic pain management. It results in considerable improvements in symptoms and function sustained 10 years later despite co-morbidity, ageing or the presence of failed back surgery.

Clinical Relevance

The long term outcome of TELDF in severely disabled patients with neuro-claudicant symptoms arising from foraminal stenosis which had failed to respond to conventional rehabilitation, surgery or chronic pain management suggests that foraminal pathology is a major cause of lumbar axial and referred pain and that TELDF should be offered as primary treatment for these conditions even in the elderly and infirm. The application of TELDF at multiple levels may further widen the benefits of this technique.

Lateral Recess Stenosis, Axial Stenosis, Foraminal stenosis, Spinal Decompression, Failed Back Surgery, Endoscopic Decompression, Foraminoplasty, Foraminotomy, Failed Fusion Surgery, Failed Chronic Pain Management, Differential Discography, Transforaminal Spinal Probing, disc degeneration, Disc Protrusion, Long-Term Outcome
Volume 8 Article 21 - Endoscopic & Percutaneous Special Issue