Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 199–206 | Cite as

Transforaminal percutaneous endoscopic lumbar discectomy for upper lumbar disc herniation: clinical outcome, prognostic factors, and technical consideration

  • Yong AhnEmail author
  • Sang-Ho Lee
  • June Ho Lee
  • Jin Uk Kim
  • Wei Chiang Liu
Clinical Article



Compared with lower lumbar disc herniations, upper lumbar disc herniations at L1–L2 and L2–L3 have specific characteristics that result in different surgical outcomes after conventional open discectomy. There are no published studies on the feasibility of percutaneous endoscopic lumbar discectomy for upper lumbar disc herniation. The purpose of this study was to assess the clinical outcome, prognostic factors and the technical pitfalls of PELD for upper lumbar disc herniation.


Forty-five patients with a soft disc herniation at L1–L2 or L2–L3 underwent percutaneous endoscopic discectomy. Posterolateral transforaminal endoscopic laser-assisted disc removal was performed under local anesthesia. Clinical outcomes was assessed using the Prolo scale. The prognostic factors associated with outcome were then analyzed.


The mean follow-up was 38.8 months (range, 25–52 months). The outcome of the 45 patients was excellent in 21 (46.7%), good in 14 patients (31.1%), fair in six patients (13.3%), and poor in four patients (8.9%). Four patients with a poor outcome underwent further open surgery. Mean scores on a visual analog scale decreased from 8.38 to 2.36 (P < 0.0001). Age less than 45 years and a lateral disc herniation were independently associated with an excellent outcome (P < 0.05).


Patient selection and an anatomically modified surgical technique promote a more successful outcome after percutaneous endoscopic discectomy for upper lumbar disc herniation.


Percutaneous endoscopic discectomy Transforaminal Upper lumbar Lateral herniation Younger age 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong Ahn
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Sang-Ho Lee
    • 2
  • June Ho Lee
    • 2
  • Jin Uk Kim
    • 3
  • Wei Chiang Liu
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryWooridul Spine HospitalDaeguSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryWooridul Spine HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of Orthopedic SurgeryWooridul Spine HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyWooridul Spine HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  5. 5.Wooridul Spine HospitalDaeguSouth Korea

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