Intradiscal injection therapy for degenerative chronic discogenic low back pain with end plate Modic changes

Peng Cao, Leisheng Jiang, Chengyu Zhuang, Yaoqi Yang, Zhongwei Zhang, Wei Chen, Tao Zheng
Spine Journal: Official Journal of the North American Spine Society 2011, 11 (2): 100-6

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: The effect of intradiscal steroid therapy for patients with degenerative chronic discogenic low back pain remains an issue of debate.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the effect of various intradiscal injection regimens for patients with degenerative chronic discogenic low back pain and end plate Modic changes.

STUDY DESIGN: Double-blind, randomized, controlled, prospective clinical study.

PATIENT SAMPLE: One hundred twenty patients with discogenic low back pain and end plate Modic changes on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) who received discography but were unwilling to accept surgical operation.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Pain and function were determined by the visual analog scale (VAS) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) assessment.

METHODS: Patients who received diagnostic discography for suspected degenerative discogenic low back pain were recruited. A total of 120 patients with positive discography and end plate Modic changes at a single level were enrolled in the study and allocated into Groups A and B according to the type of Modic changes on MRI. Then, the patients in Groups A and B were randomized into three subgroups, respectively. Intradiscal injection of normal saline was performed in Subgroups A1 and B1, intradiscal injection of diprospan was performed in Subgroups A2 and B2, and intradiscal injection of a mixed solution of diprospan+songmeile (cervus and cucumis polypeptide) was performed in Subgroups A3 and B3. The clinical outcome of each patient was evaluated and recorded by using the VAS and ODI at 3 and 6 months after the procedure.

RESULTS: The subgroups were comparable with respect to gender, age, pain, and percentage disability. Neither VAS pain scores nor Oswestry function scores of the patients within Group A had any improvement at 3 or 6 months after saline injection, but both of them improved significantly at the two time points after diprospan and diprospan+songmeile injection, respectively. Meanwhile, the latter two injection protocols led to no significant difference in pain relief and functional recovery. Similar results were obtained in patients within Group B. Furthermore, no difference of the improvement of VAS pain scores or Oswestry function scores was found between the patients within Group A and within Group B at different time points after various interventions.

CONCLUSION: Intradiscal injection of corticosteroids could be a short-term efficient alternative for discogenic low back pain patients with end plate Modic changes on MRI who were still unwilling to accept surgical operation when conservative treatment failed.

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