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2012;15;213-221. Clinical Effectiveness of Percutaneous Adhesiolysis Using Navicath for the Management of Chronic Pain Due to Lumbosacral Disc Herniation
Retrospective Study
Jung Hwan Lee, MD, and Sang-Ho Lee, MD, PhD

BACKGROUND: Epidural steroid injection has been frequently performed to treat chronic pain due to lumbosacral disc herniation (L-HIVD). However, a considerable number of patients do not achieve pain relief using this method because perineural or epidural adhesions prevent the spread of injectate into the epidural space. Percutaneous adhesiolysis (PA) is thought to be a useful method because it can eliminate the deleterious effects of adhesion.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of PA in managing chronic pain due to L-HIVD and the clinical and radiological predictive factors for the effectiveness of PA using NaviCath®.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective study

SETTING: Spine hospital

METHODS: From a group of patients diagnosed with L-HIVD, we selected the 86 patients who underwent PA with NaviCath who had experienced chronic lower back or leg pain for at least 3 months and had failed to respond to anti-inflammatory medications or physical therapy of at least 1 month’s duration and fluoroscopy guided transforaminal epidural injection. We recorded the Numeric Rating Scale for back pain (NRS back) and leg pain (NRS leg) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) at pretreatment, 2 weeks, and 3 months after treatment. Clinical data and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings were obtained to assess the possible predictive factors for PA efficacy.

LIMITATIONS: Retrospective chart review without a control group.

RESULTS: At 2 weeks after PA, significant improvement was observed in NRS back, NRS leg, and ODI compared with pretreatment. This improvement was maintained until 3 months after treatment. Among 86 patients, 61 (70.9%), 53 (61.6%) and 61 patients (70.9%) showed successful outcomes in NRS back, NRS leg, and ODI at 2 weeks, respectively. Among 74 patients who were followed up at 3 months, 47 (63.5%), 44 patients (59.5%), and 50 patients (67.6%) showed successful results in NRS back, NRS leg, and ODI at 3 months, respectively.

A significantly higher proportion of patients with a history of previous lumbar surgery showed unsuccessful results on NRS back, NRS leg, and ODI scores at 2 weeks and 3 months. Co-existence of spinal stenosis was associated with a significantly higher proportion of unsuccessful results in NRS back and ODI at 2 weeks and 3 months, as well as NRS leg at 3 months. Patients with spondylolisthesis also showed a significantly higher proportion of unsuccessful results in NRS and ODI at 2 weeks.

CONCLUSION: PA with NaviCath showed clinical effectiveness in the treatment of chronic pain due to L-HIVD that was not responsive to transforaminal epidural injection. Previous surgery and the presence of spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis were poor prognostic predictors. This procedure may enable the physician to place the catheter tip and deliver medicine more precisely.


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Pain Physcian
Sang-Ho Lee
Jung Hwan Lee

Percutaneous adhesiolysis
lumbosacral disc herniation
Numeric Rating Scale
Oswetry Disability Index