Patient Selection and Efficacy of Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy with Respect to the Dallas Discogram Score
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AIM: Intervertebral disc degeneration can cause severe low back pain. Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) is a minimally invasive treatment option for patients with symptomatic internal disc disruption unresponsive to conservative medical care. We aimed to evaluate 12-month pain and functional outcomes and predictors of clinical success in patients with discogenic back pain treated with IDET with respect to the Dallas Discogram Scale (DDS). MATERIAL and METHODS: This was a retrospective analysis of patients undergoing IDET for low back pain from 2009 through 2014 at Baskent University, Department of Neurosurgery. A total number of 120 consecutive patients data were collected retrospectively. The degree of disc degeneration was graded using the DDS during discography, and the presence of a high intensity zone (HIZ) on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was noted. The primary outcome measure was assessment of back pain severity based on the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS); function was assessed by the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Follow-up examinations for ODI and VAS scores were assessed at 1, 6, and 12 months post-treatment. Outcomes were discussed with respect to morphological changes in intervertebral discs on discogram. RESULTS: There was an average 57.39% and 47.16% improvement in VAS and ODI scores, respectively, between pretreatment and 12 months follow-up (p<0.0001 for both comparisons). Predictors of 12-month clinical success was depended on DDS (p< 0.0001), a HIZ on MR imaging (p<0.0001). CONCLUSION: Durable clinical improvements can be realized after IDET in select surgical candidates with mild disc degeneration and HIZ, discography, and low-grade DDS, with more effective treatment results.