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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 1/2018

Clinical comparison of unilateral biportal endoscopic technique versus open microdiscectomy for single-level lumbar discectomy: a multicenter, retrospective analysis

Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research > Ausgabe 1/2018
Seung-Kook Kim, Sang-Soo Kang, Young-Ho Hong, Seung-Woo Park, Su-Chan Lee
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13018-018-0725-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The unilateral biportal endoscopic (UBE) technique is a minimally invasive procedure for spinal surgery, while open microscopic discectomy is the most common surgical treatment for ruptured or herniated discs of the lumbar spine. A new endoscopic technique that uses a UBE approach has been applied to conventional arthroscopic systems for the treatment of spinal disease. In this study, we aimed to compare and evaluate the perioperative parameters and clinical outcomes, including recovery from surgery, pain and life quality modification, patient’s satisfaction, and complications, between UBE and open lumbar microdiscectomy (OLM) for single-level discectomy procedures.


This study included 141 patients with degenerative disc disease requiring discectomy at a single level from L2–L3 to L5–S1. A total of 60 and 81 patients underwent UBE and OLM, respectively. Analysis was based on comparison of perioperative metrics, operation time (OT); estimated blood loss (EBL); length of hospital stay (HS); clinical outcomes, including assessment using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI); patient satisfaction (the MacNab score); and the incidence of reoperation and complications.


The study cohort was 56.7% women, and the mean patient age was 50.98 ± 18.23 years. The mean VAS (the back and leg), MacNab score, and ODI improved significantly from the preoperative period to the last follow-up (12.92 ± 3.92) in both groups (p < 0.001). One week after operation, the back VAS score in the UBE group showed significantly more improvement than that in the OLM group. However, the 1-week, 3-month, and 12-month VAS (the back and leg), ODI improvement, modified MacNab score, and OT were not significantly different between the two groups. In the UBE group, EBL (34.67 ± 16.92) was smaller and HS (2.77 ± 1.2) was shorter than that of the OLM group (140.05 ± 57.8, 6.37 ± 1.39). However, OT (70.15 ± 22.0) was longer in the UBE group than in the OLM group (60.38 ± 15.5), and the difference was statistically significant. Meanwhile, the differences in the rate of surgical conversion and complications between the two groups were not statistically significant.


The UBE for single-level discectomy yielded similar clinical outcomes to OLM, including pain control, functional disability, and patient satisfaction, but incurred minimal EBL, HS, and postoperative back pain.

Trial registration

Not applicable.
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