Extradural inflammation associated with annular tears: demonstration with gadolinium-enhanced lumbar spine MRI.
Annular tears are manifest on MRI as the high-intensity zone (HIZ) or as annular enhancement. Patients with annular tears may experience low back pain with radiation into the lower limb in the absence of nerve root compression. Inflammation of nerve roots from leak of degenerative nuclear material through full-thickness annular tears is a proposed mechanism for such leg pain. The aim of this study is to illustrate the appearance of extradural enhancement adjacent to annular tears in patients being investigated for low back pain with radiation into the lower limb(s). Sagittal T1- and T2-weighted spin echo and axial T1-weighted spin echo sequences were obtained in eight patients being investigated for low back and leg pain. In all patients, the T1-weighted sequences were repeated following intravenous gadopentetate dimeglumine (Gd-DTPA). Annular tears were identified at 12 sites in eight patients. Extradural inflammation appeared as a region of intermediate signal intensity replacing the fat between the posterior disc margin and the theca, which enhanced following Gd-DTPA. The inflammatory change was always associated with an annular tear, and in four cases directly involved the nerve root. Enhancement of the nerve root was seen in two cases. The findings may be relevant in the diagnosis of chemical radiculopathy secondary to inflammation at the site of an annular leak from a degenerating disc. (+info)
The assessment of appropriate indications for laminectomy.
We have developed criteria to determine the appropriate indications for lumbar laminectomy, using the standard procedure developed at the RAND corporation and the University of California at Los Angeles (RAND-UCLA). A panel of five surgeons and four physicians individually assessed 1000 hypothetical cases of sciatica, back pain only, symptoms of spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, miscellaneous indications or the need for repeat laminectomy. For the first round each member of the panel used a scale ranging from 1 (extremely inappropriate) to 9 (extremely appropriate). After discussion and condensation of the results into three categories laminectomy was considered appropriate in 11% of the 1000 theoretical scenarios, equivocal in 26% and inappropriate in 63%. There was some variation between the six categories of malalignment, but full agreement in 64% of the hypothetical cases. We applied these criteria retrospectively to the records of 196 patients who had had surgical treatment for herniated discs in one Swiss University hospital. We found that 48% of the operations were for appropriate indications, 29% for equivocal reasons and that 23% were inappropriate. The RAND-UCLA method is a feasible, useful and coherent approach to the study of the indications for laminectomy and related procedures, providing a number of important insights. Our conclusions now require validation by carefully designed prospective clinical trials, such as those which are used for new medical techniques. (+info)
Diagnosis of intermittent vascular claudication in a patient with a diagnosis of sciatica.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The purpose of this case report is to illustrate the importance of medical screening to rule out medical problems that may mimic musculoskeletal symptoms. CASE DESCRIPTION: This case report describes a woman who was referred with a diagnosis of sciatica but who had signs and symptoms consistent with vascular stenosis. The patient complained of bilateral lower-extremity weakness with her pain intensity at a minimal level in the region of the left sacroiliac joint and left buttock. She also reported numbness in her left leg after walking, sensations of cold and then heat during walking, and cramps in her right calf muscle. She did not report any leg pain. A medical screening questionnaire revealed an extensive family history of heart disease. Examination of the lumbar spine and nervous system was negative. A diminished dorsalis pedis pulse was noted on the left side. Stationary cycling in lumbar flexion reproduced the patient's complaints of lower-extremity weakness and temporarily abolished her dorsalis pedis pulse on the left side. OUTCOMES: She was referred back to her physician with a request to rule out vascular disease. The patient was subsequently diagnosed, by a vascular specialist, with a "high-grade circumferential stenosis of the distal-most aorta at its bifurcation." DISCUSSION: This case report points out the importance of a thorough history, a medical screening questionnaire, and a comprehensive examination during the evaluation process to rule out medical problems that might mimic musculoskeletal symptoms. (+info)
An allele of COL9A2 associated with intervertebral disc disease.
Intervertebral disc disease is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders. A number of environmental and anthropometric risk factors may contribute to it, and recent reports have suggested the importance of genetic factors as well. The COL9A2 gene, which codes for one of the polypeptide chains of collagen IX that is expressed in the intervertebral disc, was screened for sequence variations in individuals with intervertebral disc disease. The analysis identified a putative disease-causing sequence variation that converted a codon for glutamine to one for tryptophan in six out of the 157 individuals but in none of 174 controls. The tryptophan allele cosegregated with the disease phenotype in the four families studied, giving a lod score (logarithm of odds ratio) for linkage of 4.5, and subsequent linkage disequilibrium analysis conditional on linkage gave an additional lod score of 7.1. (+info)
Conflicting conclusions from two systematic reviews of epidural steroid injections for sciatica: which evidence should general practitioners heed?
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are becoming increasingly important in informing clinical practice and commissioning. Two systematic reviews of a treatment for low back pain and sciatica using epidural steroid injections, published in the same year, arrived at conflicting conclusions. Only one was reported in a digest for evidence-based medicine. This paper aims to find the reasons for the discordance between the reviews, and draw conclusions for users of reviews. Using comparative analysis of two published systematic reviews and their source material, it was found that the two reviews had the same overall aims and met the criteria for review methods. They differed in their choice of methods, including the judgement of quality of studies for inclusion and for summing-up evidence. Estimation of summary odds ratios in one review led to stronger conclusions about effectiveness. In conclusion, the choice of methods for systematic review may alter views about the current state of evidence. Users should be aware that systematic reviews include an element of judgement, whatever method is used. (+info)
The relation between expectations and outcomes in surgery for sciatica.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the expectations that patients and their physicians have for outcomes after surgical treatment for sciatica and to examine the associations between expectations and outcomes. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. SETTING/PATIENTS: We recruited 273 patients, from the offices of orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, and occupational medicine physicians in Maine, who had diskectomy for sciatica. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Patients' and physicians' expectations were measured before surgery. Satisfaction with care and changes in symptoms and functional status were measured 12 months after surgery. More patients who expected a shorter recovery tJgie after surgery were "delighted," "pleased," or "mostly satisfied" with their outcomes 12 months after surgery than patients who expected a longer recovery tJgie (odds ratio [OR] 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1, 4.4). Also, more patients who preferred surgery after learning that sciatica could get better without surgery had good symptom scores 12 months after surgery than patients who did not prefer surgery (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.2, 7.0). When physicians predicted a "great deal of Jgiprovement" after surgery, 39% of patients were not satisfied with their outcomes and 25% said their symptoms had not Jgiproved. CONCLUSIONS: More patients with favorable expectations about surgery had good outcomes than patients with unfavorable expectations. Physicians' expectations were overly optJgiistic. Patient expectations appear to be Jgiportant predictors of outcomes, and eliciting them may help physicians identify patients more likely to benefit from diskectomy for sciatica. (+info)
Recurrent pain after lumbar discectomy: the diagnostic value of peridural scar on MRI.
The association between peridural scarring and recurrent pain after lumbar discectomy is much debated. A recently published study found that patients with extensive peridural fibrosis were 3.2 times more likely to experience recurrent radicular pain than those with less extensive scarring. This finding may lead to an overestimation of peridural fibrosis in clinical practice. In a retrospective study we analyzed the records of 53 patients who underwent a lumbar MRI because of recurrent pain after first unilateral microdiscectomy. Patients were classified as those with radicular or non-radicular pain according to history and clinical findings. The diagnosis was confirmed by spinal anesthetic block. The extension of scarring was compared between the two groups of patients. The amount of epidural fibrosis was examined on contrast-enhanced MRI in axial slices subdivided into four quadrants. The amount of fibrosis was divided into four stages in each affected quadrant. We found no differences regarding the amount of peridural fibrosis between patients with radicular pain and patients with non-radicular pain. We conclude that the extent of peridural scarring as defined by MRI is of minor value in the differential diagnosis of recurrent back and leg pain after lumbar microdiscectomy. (+info)
Single-blind randomised controlled trial of chemonucleolysis and manipulation in the treatment of symptomatic lumbar disc herniation.
This single-blind randomised clinical trial compared osteopathic manipulative treatment with chemonucleolysis (used as a control of known efficacy) for symptomatic lumbar disc herniation. Forty patients with sciatica due to this diagnosis (confirmed by imaging) were treated either by chemonucleolysis or manipulation. Outcomes (leg pain, back pain and self-reported disability) were measured at 2 weeks, 6 weeks and 12 months. The mean values for all outcomes improved in both groups. By 12 months, there was no statistically significant difference in outcome between the treatments, but manipulation produced a statistically significant greater improvement for back pain and disability in the first few weeks. A similar number from both groups required additional orthopaedic intervention; there were no serious complications. Crude cost analysis suggested an overall financial advantage from manipulation. Because osteopathic manipulation produced a 12-month outcome that was equivalent to chemonucleolysis, it can be considered as an option for the treatment of symptomatic lumbar disc herniation, at least in the absence of clear indications for surgery. Further study into the value of manipulation at a more acute stage is warranted. (+info)