Reliability of a Novel Classification System for Thoracic Disc Herniations.


Study design

Cross-sectional survey.


To assess the reliability of a proposed novel classification system for thoracic disc herniations (TDHs).

Summary of background data

TDHs are complex entities varying substantially in many factors, including size, location, and calcification. To date, no comprehensive system exists to categorize these lesions.


Our proposed system classifies 5 types of TDHs using anatomical and clinical characteristics, with subtypes for calcification. Type 0 herniations are small (≤40% of spinal canal) TDHs without significant spinal cord or nerve root effacement; type 1 are small and paracentral; type 2 are small and central; type 3 are giant (>40% of spinal canal) and paracentral; and type 4 are giant and central. Patients with types 1-4 TDHs have correlative clinical and radiographic evidence of spinal cord compression. Twenty-one US spine surgeons with substantial TDH experience rated 10 illustrative cases to determine the system's reliability. Interobserver and intraobserver reliability were determined using the Fleiss kappa coefficient. Surgeons were also surveyed to obtain consensus on surgical approaches for the various TDH types.


High agreement was found for the classification system, with 80% (range 62-95%) overall agreement and high interrater and intrarater reliability (kappa 0.604 [moderate to substantial agreement] and kappa 0.630 [substantial agreement], respectively). All surgeons reported nonoperative management of type 0 TDHs. For type 1 TDHs, most respondents (71%) preferred posterior approaches. For type 2 TDHs, responses were roughly equivalent for anterolateral and posterior options. For types 3 and 4 TDHs, most respondents (72% and 68%, respectively) preferred anterolateral approaches.


This novel classification system can be used to reliably categorize TDHs, standardize description, and potentially guide the selection of surgical approach. Validation of this system with regard to treatment and clinical outcomes represent lines of future study.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Farber, S Harrison, Corey T Walker, James J Zhou, Jakub Godzik, Shashank V Gandhi, Bernardo de Andrada Pereira, Robert M Koffie, David S Xu, et al. (2023). Reliability of a Novel Classification System for Thoracic Disc Herniations. Spine, Publish Ahead of Print. 10.1097/brs.0000000000004701 Retrieved from

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