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Intradiscal Electrothermal Treatment for Chronic Discogenic Low Back Pain: Prospective Outcome Study With a Minimum 2-Year Follow-Up

Saal, Jeffrey A. MD; Saal, Joel S. MD

Clinical Case Series

Study Design. Prospective longitudinal study with a minimum 2-year follow-up.

Objective. To assess the long-term outcome of a group of patients with chronic discogenic low back pain who had failed to improve with comprehensive nonoperative care and who were subsequently treated with intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET).

Summary of Background Data. Previous reports of patient outcomes at 1 year after IDET have demonstrated statistically significant improvement.

Methods. The study group comprised 58 patients with chronic symptoms of more than 6 months who failed to improve with nonoperative care and subsequently underwent IDET. VAS pain scores, SF-36 scores, and sitting tolerance times were collected pretreatment and at 6, 12, and 24 months.

Results. Mean duration of pre-IDET symptoms was 60.7 months. The minimum follow-up at data collection was 24 months. The study group (n = 58) demonstrated a significant improvement in pain as demonstrated by statistically significant improvement in VAS scores and bodily pain SF-36 scores. The IDET-treated group demonstrated a significant improvement in physical function as noted by statistically significant improvement in sitting tolerance times and physical function SF-36 scores. Bodily pain and physical function scores demonstrated significant improvement between the 1- and 2-year observation points. Additionally, quality of life improvement was demonstrated by a statistically significant improvement in all the SF-36 subscales.

Conclusions. A cohort of patients with chronic discogenic low back pain who had failed to improve with comprehensive nonoperative care demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in pain, physical function, and quality of life at 2 years after IDET.

From SOAR, Physiatry Medical Group, Menlo Park, California.

Acknowledgment date: May 1, 2001.

Revision date: August 6, 2001.

Acceptance date: November 14, 2001.

The device(s)/drug(s) is/are FDA-approved or approved by corresponding national agency for this indication.

No funds were received in support of this work. Benefits in some form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript. One or more of the author(s) has/have received or will receive benefits for personal or professional use from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript, e.g., royalties, stocks, stock options, decision-making position.

Address correspondence to

Jeffrey A. Saal, MD

SOAR, Physiatry Medical Group

2884 Sand Hill Road, Suite 110

Menlo Park, CA 94025

E-mail: gbdubuk@ix.netcom.com

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.