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OBJECTIVE There has been considerable debate about the utility of the operating microscope in lumbar discectomy and its effect on outcomes and cost. METHODS A commercially available longitudinal database was used to identify patients undergoing discectomy with or without use of a microscope between 2007 and 2015. Propensity matching was performed to normalize differences between demographics and comorbidities in the 2 cohorts. Outcomes, complications, and cost were subsequently analyzed using bivariate analysis. RESULTS A total of 42,025 patients were identified for the "macroscopic" group, while 11,172 patients were identified for the "microscopic" group. For the propensity-matched analysis, the 11,172 patients in the microscopic discectomy group were compared with a group of 22,340 matched patients who underwent macroscopic discectomy. There were no significant differences in postoperative complications between the groups other than a higher proportion of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the macroscopic discectomy cohort versus the microscopic discectomy group (0.4% vs 0.2%, matched OR 0.48 [95% CI 0.26-0.82], p = 0.0045). Length of stay was significantly longer in the macroscopic group compared to the microscopic group (mean 2.13 vs 1.83 days, p < 0.0001). Macroscopic discectomy patients had a higher rate of revision surgery when compared to microscopic discectomy patients (OR 0.92 [95% CI 0.84-1.00], p = 0.0366). Hospital charges were higher in the macroscopic discectomy group (mean $19,490 vs $14,921, p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS The present study suggests that the use of the operating microscope in lumbar discectomy is associated with decreased length of stay, lower DVT rate, lower reoperation rate, and decreased overall hospital costs.
View details for PubMedID 29712527