BACKGROUND: Large lumbar disc herniation (LDH) has been reported to have a greater tendency to resolve in clinical and pathomorphological evolutions. However, various definitions of large LDH have been used without validation, and the clinical symptoms of large LDH have not been fully elucidated. We conducted a retrospective analysis to determine the clinical characteristics and treatment outcome of massive LDH with complete dural sac stenosis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 33 cases of LDH with complete dural sac stenosis on magnetic resonance imaging. Complete dural sac stenosis was defined as no recognizable rootlet and cerebrospinal fluid signal on T2-weighed axial MR images. The clinical outcome parameters included back pain, leg pain, Oswestry disability index (ODI), and neurological dysfunction. The paired t-test and Wilcoxon's signed rank test were used to compare serial changes in back pain, leg pain and neurological dysfunction.
RESULTS: Mean duration of followup was 66 months (range 24 - 108 months). There were 24 male and 9 female. The mean age was 37 years (range 20 - 53 years). At presentation, mean visual analogue scales for back pain and leg pain were 75.3 ± 19.1 (range 12 - 100) and 80.2 ± 14.6 (range 0 -100), respectively. Mean ODI was 67.1 ± 18.8 (range 26 - 88). Neurological dysfunction was found in 9 patients (27.3%), and the bowel/bladder dysfunction was found in 2 patients (3.1%). Conservative treatment was performed in 21 patients (63.6%) with satisfactory results. Seven patients underwent decompressive surgery, and 5 underwent posterolateral fusion.
CONCLUSIONS: A massive LDH with complete dural sac stenosis was found to be associated with severe back and leg pain at presentation, however surgical treatment can be deferred unless significant neurological symptoms occur.
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