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Low Back Pain Can Be Relieved With Minimally Invasive Treatment

December 31, 2017

A new minimally invasive, image-guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment is safe and effective for the treatment of low back pain and sciatica, according to a recent study.

Findings were presented on November 29, 2017, at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 2017 103rd Annual Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting.1

Low back pain affects at least 80% of the US population at some point in their lifetime and is the most common cause of job-related disability.

To assess the effectiveness of the radiofrequency treatment on low back pain, the researchers evaluated 80 patients at a single center who had experienced at least 3 months of low back pain due to a herniated disk that had not responded to treatments, including exercise and medication.

All patients in the study underwent a minimally invasive procedure, during which a needle was guided via computed tomography (CT) imaging to the location of the bulging disc and nerve root. Subsequently, pulsed radiofrequency energy was administered to the area for 10 minutes.

Results showed that 81% of patients had been pain-free 1 year following the treatment session. The researchers noted that 90% of patients were able to avoid surgery, while 6 patients required a second pulsed radiofrequency.

“There’s a big gap between conservative treatments for disc compression and herniation and surgical repair, which can lead to infection, bleeding and a long recovery period,” the researchers said in a press release. “Evolving technologies like this image-guided treatment may help a substantial number of patients avoid surgery.”2

—Christina Vogt


  1. Napoli A. CT guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment of the lumbar dorsal root ganglion in patients with acute radicular low back pain. Paper presented at: Radiological Society of North America 2017; November 26-December 1, 2017; Chicago, IL.
  2. Minimally invasive treatment provides relief from back pain [press release]. Chicago, IL. Radiological Society of North America. November 29, 2017. Accessed November 29, 2017.
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