Chemonucleolysis: The state of the art

James W. Simmons, Eugene J. Nordby, Alexander G. Hadjipavlou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


This review presents the history of chemonucleolysis, the techniques, indications, contraindications, and complications. Presenting an historical overview and comparison of success rates with surgical discectomy may provide a fresh understanding of the controversy surrounding chemonucleolysis and establish its efficacy in relation to more invasive treatments. A review of the literature from 1973 through 1998 for chemonucleolysis, open discectomy, and microdiscectomy provided published success rates for these procedures, and a mean rate with standard deviation was determined. In the experience and opinion of the authors, chemonucleolysis remains a viable alternative for patients who have exhausted all conservative means of treatment. Proper patient selection leads to success rates comparable to open discectomy and microdiscectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-202
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemonucleolysis
  • Chymopapain
  • Microdiscectomy
  • Open discectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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