PainSci commentary on Fraser 1995: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
This study waited a surprisingly long time — ten full years — to look at the fate of people who were in a trial of chymopapain (an injected enzyme that dissolves herniated disc material). 37% still had a disc herniation, but — much like later studies (Barth 2008, Barzouhi 2013) — their herniation status “had no significant bearing on a successful outcome,” and “long-term improvement of a patient’s symptoms after treatment of disc herniation may occur with or without resolution of the hernia.”
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
STUDY DESIGN: Fifty-six patients with lumbar disc herniation who had participated in a double-blind study comparing chymopapain with saline were invited to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging assessment of the lumbosacral spine more than 10 years later.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess the long-term morphologic changes after treatment of disc herniation by chemonucleolysis and laminectomy and to compare these findings with the natural history of the disorder.
SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: There is little information on the effects of different treatment methods for lumbar disc herniation on the long-term morphologic changes in the disc.
METHODS: Of the original 56 patients, 39 were entered into the study: 12 had been treated by saline injection alone, 14 by chemonucleolysis alone, and 13 had subsequently required laminectomy for a failed intradiscal injection. Each sequence of magnetic resonance images was examined by a radiologist who was unaware of the treatment given. The signal strength was assessed on T2-weighted images in the sagittal plane and disc morphology on T1- and T2-weighted sagittal and T1-weighted axial images.
RESULTS: The signal of the treated disc was absent in all cases in each group. Thirty-seven percent of patients were found to have a persistent herniated disc and the incidence was similar in all three treatment groups. The presence or absence of herniation at 10 years had no significant bearing on a successful outcome.
CONCLUSION: The findings of this study indicate that long-term improvement of a patient's symptoms after treatment of disc herniation may occur with or without resolution of the hernia. This and the similar morphologic findings in the different groups is consistent with the 10-year clinical results after the treatment of disc herniation reported by Weber.
- “Incidence of Spontaneous Resorption of Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Meta-Analysis,” Zhong et al, Pain Physician, 2017.
- “Resolution of Lumbar Disk Herniation without Surgery,” Jennifer Hong and Perry A Ball, NEJM.org.
- “Progression of lumbar disc herniations over an eight-year period in a group of adult Danes from the general population: a longitudinal MRI study using quantitative measures,” Kjaer et al, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2016.
- “Magnetic resonance imaging in follow-up assessment of sciatica,” Barzouhi et al, New England Journal of Medicine, 2013.
- “Two-year outcome after lumbar microdiscectomy versus microscopic sequestrectomy: part 2: radiographic evaluation and correlation with clinical outcome,” Barth et al, Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 2008.
- “Lumbar disc herniation: a controlled, prospective study with 10 years of observation,” Weber, Spine, 1983.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Suri 2010 Spine J.
- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- Is there a relationship between throbbing pain and arterial pulsations? Mirza 2012 J Neurosci.