Radiofrequency lesioning using two different time modalities for the treatment of lumbar discogenic pain: a randomized trial

Omür Erçelen, Erhan Bulutçu, Tunç Oktenoglu, Mehdi Sasani, Hakan Bozkuş, Ali Cetin Saryoglu, Fahir Ozer
Spine 2003 September 1, 28 (17): 1922-7

STUDY DESIGN: A prospective randomized trial.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of percutaneous intradiscal radiofrequency thermocoagulation by modifying the duration of heating, using two different time methods, for relieving pain and improving functional disability.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Lumbar discogenic pain is the major problem in lumbar degenerative disc disease that percutaneous intradiscal radiofrequency thermocoagulation has been suggested for as a nonsurgical invasive treatment technique for lumbar discogenic pain. In a previous controlled study, this method was found to be ineffective with 8 weeks of follow-up.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty patients with chronic low back pain were selected for provocative discography to diagnose the discogenic pain and to locate the discs to be treated. From this group, 39 patients were randomly selected and divided into two groups. In the first group, treatment was performed for 120 seconds, and in the second group for 360 seconds, both at 80C. Patients were assessed with a visual analogue scale for pain relief and functional improvement. Evaluations were performed before, immediately after treatment, at 1 and 2 weeks, and at 1, 3, and 6 months after the procedure.

RESULTS: A total of 39 patients with positive provocative discographies were found to eligible for the study. There were no statistical differences in pain relief and functional improvement between two groups (P > 0.05). The immediate, 1-week and 2-week, and 1-month visual analogue scale (VAS) scores were decreased significantly in both groups when comparing them with the pretreatment scores (P < 0.05). However, the final values after 6 months were similar to those measured at the beginning of the study (P > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous intradiscal radiofrequency thermocoagulation has been suggested and performed to relieve discogenic pain. In the previous controlled study, no effective pain relief has been obtained. In this study, the authors increased the duration of radiofrequency thermocoagulation to improve the effectiveness of this method. Yet, the authors have not found any significant differences between the application of lesioning at two different times in percutaneous intradiscal radiofrequency thermocoagulation.

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