Minimally invasive thoracic decompression for multi-level thoracic pathologies

Zachary A. Smith, Cort D. Lawton, Albert P. Wong, Nader S. Dahdaleh, Alexander T. Nixon, Aruna Ganju, Richard G. Fessler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We describe our experience using a minimal access approach for multi-level dorsal decompression of the thoracic spine that may limit approach-related soft-tissue injury and spinal destabilization. Additionally, three patients, each with unique compressive thoracic pathology, are discussed. A single minimal access technique, using multi-level hemilaminotomies, was used to address these unique pathologies via a similar approach. The three patients in this study had a mean age of 49.3 years (range: 45-55 years), mean estimated blood loss of 750 cc (range: 350-1000 cc), mean operative time of 3.8 hours (range: 3-5 hours), and a mean post-operative hospital stay of 2.3 days (range: 2-3 days). Complete decompression was achieved with resolution of symptoms in all patients. Long-term follow-up averaged 26.7 months (range: 15-36 months). Radiographic decompression was demonstrated in all patients. Minimal access techniques using muscle-splitting tubular retractor systems can effectively treat multi-level dorsal compression of the thoracic cord, while potentially limiting morbidity and long-term spinal instability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Minimally invasive spine
  • Surgical technique
  • Thoracic spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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