Return to play in professional baseball players following transforaminal endoscopic decompressive spine surgery under local anesthesia
Transforaminal endoscopic discectomy has been established as the least minimally invasive spine surgical procedure because it avoids the surgical morbidity from surgical dissection and denervation of normal anatomy responsible for the functional stability of the spine. There have been few reports on endoscopic spine surgery for professional athletes who are dependent on the preservation of vital anatomy to maintain the highest level of function. This report is on five Japanese professional baseball players who underwent transforaminal endoscopic foraminoplasty-discectomy with pulsed radiofrequency thermal annuloplasty under the local anesthesia. There were no adverse surgical events nor complications. Three athletes suffered from discogenic back pain, one from symptomatic herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP), and another player from sciatica due to foraminal stenosis. Three players decided to undergo surgery at the beginning of the off-season. Therefore, they returned to professional play at the beginning of the following season. The remaining two players underwent surgery just before the beginning of the next season. They all returned to play sooner than with traditional open decompression. Two players returned to play about one month after the start of the season. All five players quickly returned to their sport within three months despite the rigors required of their sport to maintain high proficiency and were able to complete the season.