Clinical outcomes of symptomatic thoracic disk herniations treated surgically through minimally invasive lateral transthoracic approach

  • Ismail Oltulu
  • Hemra Cil
  • Mustafa Onur Ulu
  • Vedat DevirenEmail author
Original Article


Although symptomatic thoracic disk herniation (TDH) is relatively rare, its treatment is quite difficult. Our aim is to present the outcomes and complications in patients with thoracic disk herniation treated with minimally invasive lateral transthoracic approach (LTTA). Fifty-nine consecutive patients with 69 symptomatic disk herniations that underwent minimally invasive LTTA to treat TDH between 2007 and 2016 were enrolled. Medical records were reviewed retrospectively. The numbers of TDH were as follows: 41 central, 10 paracentral, and 18 both central and paracentral. The number of calcified disk herniations was found to be 32. No patient developed neurological deficit. Postoperative neurological improvement occurred in 39 (90.7%) of 43 patients with myelopathy. Preoperative VAS scores, ODI scores, and SF-36 scores improved at the follow-up, respectively. Mean blood loss, hospitalization period, and follow-up period were found to be 391.2 mL, 4.7 days, and 60 months; respectively. The following complications were observed: dural tear (five patients), intercostal neuralgia (three patients), rib fracture (one patient), pleural effusion requiring chest tube (two patients), hydropneumothorax requiring chest tube (one patient), small pneumothorax (one patient), atelectasis (one patient), pulmonary embolism (one patient), and pneumonia (one patient). Minimally invasive LTTA not only minimizes the manipulation of the thecal sac decreasing the risk for neurological injury compared to traditional posterior methods but also significantly decreases the pulmonary complications associated with traditional open procedures. Based on the authors’ experience, anterior approach should be preferred especially in calcified central disk herniations regardless of surgeon’s experience.


Thoracic disk herniation Minimally invasive approach Extreme lateral interbody fusion Surgery Thoracic Calcification 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

UCSF Institutional ethical review board approval (IRB#16–20,405) was received before the study. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ismail Oltulu
    • 1
  • Hemra Cil
    • 1
  • Mustafa Onur Ulu
    • 2
  • Vedat Deviren
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurosurgery, Cerrahpasa Medical FacultyIstanbul University-CerrahpasaIstanbulTurkey

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