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Twelve-month follow-up of a controlled trial of intradiscal thermal anuloplasty for back pain due to internal disc disruption.

Spine 2000 October 16
STUDY DESIGN: Case-control study.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the prima facie efficacy of intradiscal electrothermal anuloplasty (IDTA).

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Although it is being used increasingly as a putative treatment for internal disc disruption, no studies have been published on the efficacy of IDTA.

METHODS: Fifty-three patients with back pain determined by computed tomographic (CT)-discography to be due to internal disc disruption were offered treatment. The outcomes of 35 patients treated with IDTA were compared with those of a convenience sample of 17 patients treated with a physical rehabilitation program, by using a visual analog pain scale, use of analgesics, and return to work as measures.

RESULTS: At 3 months, only one control patient obtained any significant degree of relief of pain, compared with 23 in the index group. Relief of pain was sustained at 6 and 12 months and was associated with improvement in disability, reduced drug use, and a return to work rate of 53%. Depending on the stringency of criteria used, the success rate of IDTA may be as low as 23% or as high as 60% with confidence intervals of +/-16%.

CONCLUSIONS: In carefully selected cases, IDTA can eliminate or dramatically reduce the pain of internal disc disruption in a substantial proportion of patients and appears to be superior to conventional conservative care for internal disc disruption.

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