Outpatient transforaminal decompression after spine surgery safe & effective, study finds

A study in the International Journal of Spine Surgery researched the effectiveness of outpatient transforaminal decompression as an alternative to inpatient revision decompression procedures.

The study comprised 48 patients who underwent endoscopic transforaminal and lateral decompression for both persistent and recurrent leg and/or back pain after a previous lumbar laminectomy — 22 patients — or decompression fusion — 26 patients.

Here are four study findings:

1. The mean visual analog scale score dropped from 7.7 ± 1.8 preoperatively to 2.3 ± 1.1 with 79.1 percent of patients reporting "excellent" and "good" results based on Macnab criteria.

2. Postoperative complications were rare and limited to dorsal root ganglion irritation, which occurred in 25 percent of patients.

3. Patients who reported "excellent" or "good" results were able to return to work quicker after endoscopic outpatient surgery compared to the initial inpatient open spinal surgery.

4. Direct costs were 40.6 percent lower and indirect costs were 37.1 percent lower with the secondary endoscopic surgery compared with the primary spine surgery.

"[Transforaminal decompression] can be safely done in an outpatient setting, while realizing savings in direct and indirect costs," study authors concluded.

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