BARCELONA – A new medical procedure developed in Spain looks set to reduce the intense discomfort and disability associated with lower back pain by enabling a replacement of spinal discs, a study said on Wednesday.
A team led by Doctor Pablo Clavel of Barcelona’s QuirónSalud clinic published its results in the Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery journal.
The study entitled “Health-related quality of life in patients undergoing lumbar total disc replacement: A comparison with the general population,” suggests the procedure, LTDR, as an alternative to more conventional lumbar vertebral fusion surgery.
According to Clavel, the results obtained seemed to endorse the new procedure as a majority of patients improved their health and quality of life to values similar to those of the general population. Disability and pain were significantly reduced compared to preoperative evaluations, the study said.
The human spine is composed of 24 vertebrae, stacked on top of one another, bones that contain a canal that surrounds and protects the spinal cord.
Vertebrae are separated from each other by intervertebral disks, flat, round and flexible cushions that act as shock absorbers when a person walks or runs.
Lower back pain is thought to be related to Lumbar Disc Degeneration Disease.
Discs can degenerate due to aging, disease, abuse or by becoming a slipped, herniated or ruptured disk, one of the most common causes of both lower back pain (lumbago) and leg pain (sciatica).
According to the study 59 percent of the trial group, prior to LTDR surgery, suffered severe disability and 86 percent had either moderate or severe lumbar pain.
One year after the LTDR surgery, the study checked the trial patient’s Health-related Quality of life (HRQOL) with comparable age and gender general population values, to assess their functional disability and residual pain.
This is the first Spanish study showing that in a trial of 51 patients, 92 percent improved their Oswestry Disability Index score, 90 percent improved their lower back pain (lumbago) and 87 percent improved their leg pain (sciatica).
Also, 44 patients with an active professional life returned to work and up to 89 percent of the patients practiced sports again.
However, patients with previous spinal surgery had lower improvements in HRQOL index, disability and pain than those without previous surgery.
Clavel has called for larger scale studies to identify the best candidates for the LTDR treatment.