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Microendoscopic lumbar discectomy versus open surgery: an intraoperative EMG study

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This study investigated electromyographic (EMG) activity as a marker of nerve root irritation during two different surgical procedures for lumbar disc herniation. Mechanically elicited EMG activity was recorded during the dynamic stages of surgery in muscle groups innervated by lumbar nerve roots. Confirmation of surgical activity was correlated with the activity of the electromyogram. Fifteen patients with lumbar disc herniations were treated via an endoscopic medial approach, and 15 patients via the open microscopic surgical technique. Results indicated that the endoscopic technique was superior to the open surgical technique and produced less irritation of the nerve root. Significantly less mechanically elicited activity was recorded during both the approach and the root mobilization. The study showed that microendoscopic discectomy allows a smaller incision and less tissue trauma with comparable visualization of the nerve structures than does open surgery.

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Schick, U., Döhnert, J., Richter, A. et al. Microendoscopic lumbar discectomy versus open surgery: an intraoperative EMG study. Eur Spine J 11, 20–26 (2002).

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