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Treatment of contained lumbar disc herniations using radiofrequency assisted micro-tubular decompression and nucleotomy: four year prospective study results.

Stefan Hellinger, MD 

ISAR Clinic Munich, München, Germany



Patients with radiculopathy caused by contained disc herniations are less likely to have good outcomes following discectomy surgery than patients with disc herniations that are not contained. The author presents his 4-year results from a prospective trial regarding the efficacy and safety of a tubular transforaminal radiofrequency-assisted manual decompression and annulus modulation of contained disc herniations in 58 patients.


Fifty-eight patients with lumbar radiculopathy due to a contained disc herniation were enrolled in a prospective clinical study. Visual analog scores (VAS) for back pain and leg pain, quality of life assessment, Macnab criteria, and SF-12 were collected from patients before treatment, at 2-years and 4-years post-treatment.


At 4 years, results were obtained from 47 (81%) of patients. Compared to mean pre-treatment assessments, mean 4-year VAS for back pain improved from 8.6 to 2.3 points, and mean VAS for leg pain improved from 7.8 to 2.3. Eighty-three percent of respondents reported that they were "satisfied" or "very satisifed" with their quality of life at 4-years as per SF-12. At 4 years, recurrence was noted in 3 (6.4%) of respondents and no complications were reported.


The 2-year and 4-year study results are nearly identical, suggesting durable benefit out to 4 years. These results also suggest that in carefully selected patients with sustained contained disc herniations who have failed conservative treatments, manual decompression combined with radiofrequency-assisted decompression and annulus modulation are very likely to have good outcomes 4 years post-treatment.

discectomy, nucleotomy, contained disc, disc decompression, back pain, degenerative disc disease, microdiscectomy
Volume 8 Article 24 - Endoscopic & Percutaneous Special Issue