Efficacy, Safety, and Predictors of Intradiscal Methylene Blue Injection for Discogenic Low Back Pain: Results of a Multicenter Prospective Clinical Series

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▪ AbstractStudy Design:Prospective clinical study of intradiscal methylene blue injection for the treatment of lumbar discogenic pain.Objective:The objective of this study was to collect information about efficacy, safety, and acceptability of the intervention, gain and burden of outcome measures, and sample size assumptions for a potential following randomized controlled trial (RCT). If the pilot study demonstrates that this treatment is potentially effective and safe, and the methods and procedures used in this study are feasible, a RCT follows.Summary of Background Data:Low back pain (LBP) is a highly common problem with a lifetime prevalence of more than 70%. A substantial part of chronic LBP is attributable to degenerative changes in the intervertebral disc. A recently published RCT assessing the treatment intradiscal injection of methylene blue for chronic discogenic LBP, showed exceptionally good results.Methods:Patients were selected on clinical criteria, magnetic resonance imaging, and a positive provocative discogram. The primary outcome measure was mean pain reduction at 6 months.Results:Fifteen consecutive patients with chronic lumbar discogenic pain enrolled in a multicenter prospective case series in two interventional pain treatment centers in the Netherlands. Six months after the intervention, 40% of the patients claimed at least 30% pain relief. In patients who responded, physical function improved and medication use diminished. We observed no procedural complications or adverse events. Predictors for success were Pfirrmann grading of 2 or less and higher quality of life mental component scores.Conclusions:Our findings of 40% positive respondents, and no complications, give reason to set up a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, trial.

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