Systematic literature review.Objective.
The aim of this study was to systematically review the current evidence in the literature on thoracic discectomies, to compare the clinical outcomes, and to determine whether there is evidence to support the use of either the anterior or posterior approach.Summary of Background Data.
Thoracic disc herniations (TDHs) often present with myelopathy, radiculopathy, or a combination of both. The posterior approach for thoracic discectomy has been associated with a lower complication rate, but no systematic review exists comparing the clinical outcomes.Methods.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library databases were searched in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines for studies performing an anterior or posterior thoracic discectomy. The methodological quality was assessed using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies checklist. The reported clinical outcomes were evaluated using risk ratio, with a P < 0.05 being considered statistically significant.Results.
Thirty-seven clinical studies with 1156 patients with 1300 TDHs were included in this review. There was no statistically significant difference in the total neurological improvement or neurological worsening using either an anterior approach or a posterior approach (P = 0.02812 and P = 0.5232, respectively). However, there was a statistically significant higher rate of total complications in the anterior approach (P = 0.0024).Conclusion.
The anterior approach and posterior approach have been shown to be very similar in terms of neurological outcomes. Although the posterior approach was shown to have a lower rate of total complications, this was largely because of a decrease in minor respiratory complications seen in the anterior approach. The optimal approach may therefore be based on surgeon preference as well as patient factors, specifically cardiorespiratory with American Society of Anaesthesiologists grading.Conclusion.
Level of Evidence: 4