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Lumbar Discectomy: A National Survey of Neurosurgeons and Literature Review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2014

Aleksa Cenic
Division of Neurosurgery, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Edward Kachur
Division of Neurosurgery, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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To ascertain neurosurgical practices in the surgical management of one-level lumbar discectomies in the Canadian adult population.


One page questionnaire faxed to each Neurosurgeon in Canada with questions relating to their practice in the management of this common neurosurgical procedure. All data analyzed using Chi-square statistics.


112 completed surveys were returned hence, giving a 64% response rate with the respondents being predominantly adult neurosurgeons. Of the respondents, 88% perform lumbar discectomy in adults. Only 15% of respondents had a Spine Fellowship. For preoperative imaging, 44% use BOTH CT and MRI whereas 28% use only MRI and 15% use only CT. Prior to initial skin incision, 57% use a localization X-ray image. Preoperative antibiotics are prescribed by 92% of respondents. Majority of respondents (60%) use a pre-incision local anesthetic, whereas only a minority (44%) of respondents employ pre-closure intramuscular injection. With respect to magnification, 70% use microscope, 19% loupes, and 8% neither. Only 12% use minimally invasive tubular retractors. 68% remove “as much disc as possible”, while 31% remove “ONLY herniated part”. In the case of dural tears, 77% of respondents use fibrin glue (Tisseel®). Prior to skin closure, majority of neurosurgeons do NOT use a fat graft (72%), whereas 61% of respondents use epidural steroids. With respect to discharge from the hospital, 58% are discharged on the next day, 18% on the same day, and 23% in two days. Return to work is not recommended until at least six weeks post-op (96%). Most neurosurgeons (93%) would not operate on an individual with a chief complaint of low back pain.


Our survey has identified variations in practice patterns amongst Canadian Neurosurgeons with respect to performing one-level lumbar discectomies. This survey is expected to form a basis for the design of a randomized controlled trial in the evaluation of the best management approach for this common neurosurgical procedure.

Original Article
Copyright © The Canadian Journal of Neurological 2009


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