Efficacy of IDET for Relief of Leg Pain Associated with Discogenic Low Back Pain

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Intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty (IDET) is an effective treatment for chronic discogenic low back pain (LBP). However, efficacy of IDET for the treatment of referred leg pain has not been examined. This study was performed to assess the long-term efficacy of IDET for the treatment of referred leg pain in chronic discogenic LBP patients. Data were retrospectively analyzed as an IDET case series from January 1999 to December 2000. The IDET procedure was performed at 1–3 symptomatic levels confirmed by pressure-controlled discography. General pain outcome was evaluated by Visual Analog Scale (VAS). LBP and leg pain were assessed separately using five-point pain scales (subsets of the North American Spine Society [NASS] LBP outcome assessment instrument: 0 = no pain, 4 = worst pain) at the 18-month follow-up. Among 129 patients who underwent IDET, 30 patients underwent subsequent back surgery and were excluded from the study, giving a total of 99 patients. Eighty-three patients (83.8%) had leg pain without sciatica. Fifty-two (52.5%), 21 (21.2%), and 8 (8.0%) patients showed LBP > leg pain, LBP = leg pain and LBP < leg pain, respectively. Fifty-three out of 83 patients (63.9%) showed post-IDET improvement in pain, with a mean VAS score of 3.28 ± 2.31. Thirty patients (36.1%) showed no improvement. A statistically significant (P < 0.05) improvement in subjective back and referred leg pain was observed. Improvements in back and referred leg pain were well-correlated (r = 0.721, P < 0.01). A relatively large number of LBP patients who underwent IDET (84%) presented with referred leg pain without sciatica. The IDET procedure afforded improvements in leg pain that correlated well with improvements in back pain (0.75/4 and 0.88/4, respectively). These data suggest that IDET may relieve associated limb pain in chronic discogenic LBP patients.

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