Lumbar disk herniation and canal stenosis: Value of intraoperative sonography in diagnosis and surgical management

B. M. Montalvo, R. M. Quencer, M. D. Brown, E. Sklar, M. J.D. Post, F. Eismont, B. A. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


One hundred four patients with preoperative diagnoses of lumbar canal stenosis, disk herniation, or a combination of both were evaluated with intraoperative sonography with the intent of (1) describing the sonographic characteristics of herniated disks and distinguishing these from bulging anuli, epidural fat, scar tissue, and spondylolisthesis; (2) establishing criteria for adequate decompression of canal stenosis; and (3) determining the usefulness of sonography in monitoring disk removal. Disk material demonstrates medium echogenicity, different in its sonographic features from bone, epidural fat, scar tissue, and epidural veins. A sonographic diagnosis of disk herniation was made in 43 cases, 41 of which were confirmed during surgery. Sonography established the presence or absence of disk herniation (confirmed by surgery) in 14 of 19 patients who had equivocal preoperative findings. After routine diskectomy, residual disk material was found in 17 (41%) of 41 patients, which led to further surgery in 16 patients with removal of the additional disk fragments. In 84 patients undergoing decompressive surgery for canal stenosis, sonography detected residual canal compression in 19 (23%), which led to a widened decompression in 15 of these patients. Sonography can differentiate disk material from other normal or abnormal structures in the canal; therefore, sonographic monitoring helps to ensure adequate bony decompression and complete diskectomy. We conclude that intraoperative sonography is an important tool in the surgical management of lumbar disk disease and stenosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-830
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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