Full endoscopic versus open discectomy for sciatica: Randomised controlled non-inferiority trial

Pravesh S. Gadjradj, Sidney M. Rubinstein, Wilco C. Peul, Paul R. Depauw, Carmen L. Vleggeert-Lankamp, Ankie Seiger, Job L.C. Van Susante, Michiel R. De Boer, Maurits W. Van Tulder, Biswadjiet S. Harhangi*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

AbstractObjective To assess whether percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy (PTED) is non-inferior to conventional open microdiscectomy in reduction of leg pain caused by lumbar disc herniation. Design Multicentre randomised controlled trial with non-inferiority design. Setting Four hospitals in the Netherlands. Participants 613 patients aged 18-70 years with at least six weeks of radiating leg pain caused by lumbar disc herniation. The trial included a predetermined set of 125 patients receiving PTED who were the learning curve cases performed by surgeons who did not do PTED before the trial. Interventions PTED (n=179) compared with open microdiscectomy (n=309). Main outcome measures The primary outcome was self-reported leg pain measured by a 0-100 visual analogue scale at 12 months, assuming a non-inferiority margin of 5.0. Secondary outcomes included complications, reoperations, self-reported functional status as measured with the Oswestry Disability Index, visual analogue scale for back pain, health related quality of life, and self-perceived recovery. Outcomes were measured until one year after surgery and were longitudinally analysed according to the intention-to-treat principle. Patients belonging to the PTED learning curve were omitted from the primary analyses. Results At 12 months, patients who were randomised to PTED had a statistically significantly lower visual analogue scale score for leg pain (median 7.0, interquartile range 1.0-30.0) compared with patients randomised to open microdiscectomy (16.0, 2.0-53.5) (between group difference of 7.1, 95% confidence interval 2.8 to 11.3). Blood loss was less, length of hospital admission was shorter, and timing of postoperative mobilisation was earlier in the PTED group than in the open microdiscectomy group. Secondary patient reported outcomes such as the Oswestry Disability Index, visual analogue scale for back pain, health related quality of life, and self-perceived recovery, were similarly in favour of PTED. Within one year, nine (5%) in the PTED group compared with 14 (6%) in the open microdiscectomy group had repeated surgery. Per protocol analysis and sensitivity analyses including the patients of the learning curve resulted in similar outcomes to the primary analysis. Conclusions PTED was non-inferior to open microdiscectomy in reduction of leg pain. PTED resulted in more favourable results for self-reported leg pain, back pain, functional status, quality of life, and recovery. These differences, however, were small and may not reach clinical relevance. PTED can be considered as an effective alternative to open microdiscectomy in treating sciatica. Trial registration NCT02602093ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02602093.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere065846
JournalThe BMJ
Volume376
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding: This study was funded by ZonMw, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (project number 837004013).
ZonMw did not participate in the study design; in the conduct of the study; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or in the preparation, review,
and approval of the manuscript.

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