Interventionist performs a “sham” lumbar microdiscectomy: Should interventionalists be performing spinal surgery?
- Department of Anesthesiology, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
- Ghaly Neurosurgical Associates, Aurora, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
- Department of Anesthesiology, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
Ramsis F. Ghaly
Department of Anesthesiology, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
Department of Anesthesiology, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
DOI:10.25259/SNI_672_2020Copyright: © 2020 Surgical Neurology International This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.
How to cite this article: Ramsis F. Ghaly1,2,3, Zinaida Perciuleac1, Kenneth D. Candido1,3, Nebojsa Nick Knezevic1,3. Interventionist performs a “sham” lumbar microdiscectomy: Should interventionalists be performing spinal surgery?. 29-Dec-2020;11:467
How to cite this URL: Ramsis F. Ghaly1,2,3, Zinaida Perciuleac1, Kenneth D. Candido1,3, Nebojsa Nick Knezevic1,3. Interventionist performs a “sham” lumbar microdiscectomy: Should interventionalists be performing spinal surgery?. 29-Dec-2020;11:467. Available from: https://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint-articles/10501/
Background: Neurosurgeons and orthopedists, who have received specific training, should be the ones performing spinal surgery. Here, we present a case in which spinal surgeons secondarily (e.g., 6 months later) found that a patient’s first lumbar discectomy, performed by an interventional specialist, had been a “sham” procedure.
Case Description: A 30-year-old male presented with sciatica attributed to a magnetic resonance imaging documented large, extruded disc at the L4-5 level. An interventional pain management specialist (IPMS) performed two epidural steroid injections; these resulted in an exacerbation of his pain. The IPMS then advised the patient that he was a surgeon and performed an “interventional” microdiscectomy. Secondarily, 6 months later, when the patient presented to a spinal neurosurgeon with a progressive cauda equina syndrome, the patient underwent a bilateral laminoforaminotomy and L4-L5 microdiscectomy. Of interest, at surgery, there was no evidence of scarring from the IPMS’ prior “microdiscectomy;” it had been a “sham” operation. Following the second surgery, the patient’s cauda equina syndrome resolved.
Conclusion: IMPS, who are not trained as spinal surgeons should not be performing spinal surgery/ microdiscectomy.
Keywords: Disc herniation, Interventional pain specialist, Low back pain, Microdiscectomy, Phantom spine surgery, Spine specialists
Some interventional pain management specialists (IMPSs) consider themselves capable of performing minimally invasive spine surgery. Here, we present the case of a patient with a large lumbar disc herniation/extrusion who was “mistreated” by an IMPS with a “sham” minimally invasive microdiscectomy at the L4-L5 level. Six months later, when the patient presented with a cauda equina syndrome, a spinal neurosurgeon performed a bilateral laminoforaminotomy with a L4-L5 microdiscectomy. Interestingly, at surgery, there was no evidence of prior operative scar, confirming that the first surgery was a “sham” procedure. Here, we emphasize that IPMSs, who are not spinal surgeons, should not be performing spinal surgery, and certainly not “sham” spinal operations.
A 30-year-old male presented with the acute onset of severe low back pain and bilateral lower extremity radiculopathy. The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a large, extruded disc at the L4-5 level. Four orthopedic surgeons had recommended a lumbar discectomy. An IPMS treated him with two epidural steroid injections. The IPMS then stated he was a spine surgeon and then performed a percutaneous microdiscectomy in an outpatient surgical center. Notably, such outpatient centers typically have relaxed standards for vetting/credentialing spinal surgeons, and lower threshold requirements/indications for spine operations performed on their premises. Notably, postoperatively, the patient was told by the IPMS that; “A large portion of the disc had been removed endoscopically, the nerve was freed up, and steroids/morphine were both applied to the surgical field.”
Six months later, the patient acutely developed a cauda equina syndrome (e.g., 10/10 pain, left-sided partial foot drop (4/5), and decreased L5-S1 pin appreciation sphincter/ sexual dysfunction, and saddle paresthesias). The MRI again confirmed the large L4-L5 extruded disc herniation contributing to marked thecal sac compression/stenosis seen on the original study [
There are multiple techniques introduced for decompressing contained disc herniations (e.g., removing a small amount of disc results in dramatic reduction of intradiscal pressure), but many spine surgeons consider these unnecessary procedures.[
This case serves as an excellent example of how only spinal surgeons (neurosurgeons/orthopedists) should be performing spine surgery; this is their training, and they know how to treat the attendant complications. Certainly, these procedures should not be performed by IPMSs who are not trained spinal surgeons.
Spinal surgeons (neurosurgeons and orthopedists) should be the ones performing spine surgery, not untrained IPMSs.
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