Minimally invasive treatment provides relief from back pain

Nov. 30, 2017

The majority of patients were pain free after receiving a new image-guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment for low back pain and sciatica, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Low back pain is an extremely common problem that affects at least 80% of the population at some point in their lifetime. It is the most common cause of job-related disability. Low back pain affects men and women equally.

Most back pain is short-term, but about 20% of people affected by acute low back pain go on to develop chronic low back pain lasting a year or more. A compressed and herniated disk, in which the rubbery cushion between vertebrae impinges on and irritates nearby nerves, is a major cause of low back pain that can radiate to the legs.

The single-center prospective study included 80 patients experiencing at least three months of low back pain due to a herniated disk that had not responded to conservative treatments including exercise and medication.

The patients underwent a minimally invasive interventional radiology procedure in which, with the help of CT imaging, a needle is guided to the location of the bulging disc and nerve root. A probe is then inserted through the needle tip and delivers pulsed radiofrequency energy to the area over a 10-minute period. Even without touching the disc, the pulsation serves to resolve the herniation.

Of the 80 patients treated, 81% were pain free one year after a single 10-minute treatment session. Six patients required a second pulsed radiofrequency session. Ninety percent of the patients were able to avoid surgical treatment.

RSNA has the full release

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