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1.  Isolated septic facet joint arthritis as a rare cause of acute and chronic low back pain – a case report and literature review 
Polish Journal of Radiology  2012;77(4):72-76.
The most common cause of low back pain is degenerative disease of the intervertebral disc and other structures of the lumbar spine. However, in some cases other less frequent causes of such pain can be seen, for example septic facet joint arthritis. Until now, only 40 cases of such inflammatory changes within the spine have been reported in the literature. The disease is probably underestimated due to improper diagnostic pathway.
Case Report:
The authors describe a case of a 53-year-old woman who was repeatedly hospitalized during a five-month period because of an acute, severe low back pain, with sphincter dysfunction, partially resembling sciatic symptoms. Physical examinations revealed also focal tenderness in the area of the lumbar spine. Inflammatory markers (ESR – erythrocyte sedimentation rate, CRP – C-reactive protein) were elevated. Conservative analgetic treatment brought only partial and temporary relief of the pain and symptoms. The final accurate diagnosis of isolated septic facet joint arthritis at the level of L5/S1 was established after several months from the onset of the first symptoms, after performing various imaging examinations, including bone scintigraphy as well as CT and MRI of the lumbosacral spine. The patient fully recovered after antibiotic therapy and surgery, which was proven in several follow-up examinations showing no relevant pathology of the lumbar spine. The authors broadly describe the etiology and clinical symptoms of the septic facet joint arthritis as well as the significant role of imaging methods, especially MRI, in diagnostic process. The authors also discuss currently available treatment options, both conservative and surgical.
The diagnostic procedure of septic facet joint arthritis requires several steps to be taken. Establishing a correct diagnosis may be difficult, that is why it is important to remember about rare causes of low back pain and to perform detailed physical examination, laboratory tests and choose appropriate imaging techniques.
PMCID: PMC3529718  PMID: 23269942
low back pain; diagnostics; facet joint arthritis
2.  Lumbar Periradicular Abscess Mimicking a Fragmented Lumbar Disc Herniation : An Unusual Case 
We herein describe the case of a focal spontaneous spinal epidural abscess who was initially diagnosed to have a free fragment of a lumbar disc. A 71-year-old woman presented with history of low back and right leg pain. Magnetic resonance imaging suggested a peripherally enhancing free fragment extending down from S1 nerve root axilla. Preoperative laboratory investigation showed elevation of c-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) levels. She was taken for surgery and a fluctuating mass at the axilla of S1 nerve was found. When the mass was probed with a dissector, a dark yellow, thick pus drained out. Pus cultures were negative. Patients who present with extreme low back plus leg pain and increased leucocyte count, ESR and CRP levels should raise the suspicion of an infection of a vertebral body or spinal epidural space.
PMCID: PMC2615143  PMID: 19137084
Abscess; Disc; Periradicular; Spinal
3.  Pain and high sensitivity C reactive protein in patients with chronic low back pain and acute sciatic pain 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2005;64(6):921-925.
Background: The severity of pain from musculoskeletal disorders might be associated with high sensitivity C reactive protein (hsCRP), a sensitive marker of low grade systemic inflammation.
Objective: To study the association between pain as assessed by a visual analogue scale (VAS) and hsCRP in patients with chronic low back pain and acute sciatic pain.
Methods: Information on pain severity, determinants of hsCRP, and hsCRP values were obtained prospectively at up to 10 time points during six months in 72 consecutive patients (mean age 43.3 years; 59.7% female): 41 with chronic low back pain and 31 with acute sciatic pain. The association between severity of pain and raised (highest quartile) hsCRP values at any time point was estimated by multivariable logistic regression using generalised estimating equations to adjust odds ratios (OR) and their confidence intervals (CI) for intraindividual dependence of measurements.
Results: Mean intensity of pain (VAS 0–10) at baseline was 4.9 and 5.5 in patients with chronic low back and acute sciatic pain, respectively. Highest v lowest tertile of average intensity of pain during the last 24 hours was associated with increased hsCRP levels among patients with acute sciatic pain (adjusted OR = 3.4 (95% CI, 1.1 to 10), but not in patients with chronic low back pain (adjusted OR = 0.87 (0.25 to 3.0)).
Conclusions: Mean intensity of pain during the previous 24 hours as assessed by VAS was independently associated with high levels of hsCRP in patients with acute sciatic pain but not in those with chronic low back pain.
PMCID: PMC1755532  PMID: 15897311
4.  Lumbar Disc Degenerative Disease: Disc Degeneration Symptoms and Magnetic Resonance Image Findings 
Asian Spine Journal  2013;7(4):322-334.
Study Design
Cross sectional and observational.
To evaluate the different aspects of lumbar disc degenerative disc disease and relate them with magnetic resonance image (MRI) findings and symptoms.
Overview of Literature
Lumbar disc degenerative disease has now been proven as the most common cause of low back pain throughout the world. It may present as disc herniation, lumbar spinal stenosis, facet joint arthropathy or any combination. Presenting symptoms of lumbar disc degeneration are lower back pain and sciatica which may be aggravated by standing, walking, bending, straining and coughing.
This study was conducted from January 2012 to June 2012. Study was conducted on the diagnosed patients of lumbar disc degeneration. Diagnostic criteria were based upon abnormal findings in MRI. Patients with prior back surgery, spine fractures, sacroiliac arthritis, metabolic bone disease, spinal infection, rheumatoid arthritis, active malignancy, and pregnancy were excluded.
During the targeted months, 163 patients of lumbar disc degeneration with mean age of 43.92±11.76 years, came into Neurosurgery department. Disc degeneration was most commonly present at the level of L4/L5 105 (64.4%).Commonest types of disc degeneration were disc herniation 109 (66.9%) and lumbar spinal stenosis 37 (22.7%). Spondylolisthesis was commonly present at L5/S1 10 (6.1%) and associated mostly with lumbar spinal stenosis 7 (18.9%).
Results reported the frequent occurrence of lumbar disc degenerative disease in advance age. Research efforts should endeavor to reduce risk factors and improve the quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3863659  PMID: 24353850
Claudication; Low back pain; Spondylolisthesis
5.  Relationship between low-back pain, muscle spasm and pressure pain thresholds in patients with lumbar disc herniation 
European Spine Journal  2005;15(1):41-47.
It is not known whether or not muscle spasm of the back muscles presented in patients with sciatic scoliosis caused by lumbar disc herniation produces muscle pain and/or tenderness. Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) of the lower back and low-back pain were examined in 52 patients (13 of 52 presenting sciatic scoliosis) with lumbar disc herniation who complained of radicular pain and in 15 normal subjects. PPTs were measured at five points bilaterally using an electronic pressure algometer. Low-back pain was evaluated using visual analogue scale (VAS) ratings. All patients complained of radicular leg pain and were divided into the following three groups according to the presence of and the region of low-back pain: no low-back pain group, low-back pain with no laterality group, and low-back pain dominantly on the herniation side group; the VAS rating on the side ipsilateral to the herniation side was higher than that on the contralateral side. In the normal subjects, there were no statistically significant differences between sides in mean PPTs at all sites examined. PPTs were not lower in the spasmodic side (concave side) than the convex side in patients with sciatic scoliosis. PPTs on the herniation side were significantly lower than those on the contralateral side in patients with low-back pain dominantly on the herniation side. Furthermore, the areas of low PPTs were beyond the innervation area of dorsal ramus of L5 and S1 nerve root. It was considered that not only the peripheral mechanisms but also the hyper excitability of the central nervous system might contribute in lowering PPTs of the lower back on the herniation side.
PMCID: PMC3454558  PMID: 15931510
Pressure pain threshold; Muscle spasm; Low-back pain; Lumbar disc herniation; Sciatic scoliosis
6.  Fluoroscopic lumbar interlaminar epidural injections in managing chronic lumbar axial or discogenic pain 
Journal of Pain Research  2012;5:301-311.
Among the multiple causes of chronic low back pain, axial and discogenic pain are common. Various modalities of treatments are utilized in managing discogenic and axial low back pain including epidural injections. However, there is a paucity of evidence regarding the effectiveness, indications, and medical necessity of any treatment modality utilized for managing axial or discogenic pain, including epidural injections. In an interventional pain management practice in the US, a randomized, double-blind, active control trial was conducted. The objective was to assess the effectiveness of lumbar interlaminar epidural injections of local anesthetic with or without steroids for managing chronic low back pain of discogenic origin. However, disc herniation, radiculitis, facet joint pain, or sacroiliac joint pain were excluded. Two groups of patients were studied, with 60 patients in each group receiving either local anesthetic only or local anesthetic mixed with non-particulate betamethasone. Primary outcome measures included the pain relief-assessed by numeric rating scale of pain and functional status assessed by the, Oswestry Disability Index, Secondary outcome measurements included employment status, and opioid intake. Significant improvement or success was defined as at least a 50% decrease in pain and disability. Significant improvement was seen in 77% of the patients in Group I and 67% of the patients in Group II. In the successful groups (those with at least 3 weeks of relief with the first two procedures), the improvement was 84% in Group I and 71% in Group II. For those with chronic function-limiting low back pain refractory to conservative management, it is concluded that lumbar interlaminar epidural injections of local anesthetic with or without steroids may be an effective modality for managing chronic axial or discogenic pain. This treatment appears to be effective for those who have had facet joints as well as sacroiliac joints eliminated as the pain source.
PMCID: PMC3442746  PMID: 23055773
lumbar disc herniation; axial or discogenic pain; lumbar interlaminar epidural injections; local anesthetic; steroids; controlled comparative local anesthetic blocks; NCT00681447
7.  Spondylodiscitis after Cervical Nucleoplasty without Any Abnormal Laboratory Findings 
The Korean Journal of Pain  2013;26(2):181-185.
Infective spondylodiscitis is a rare complication that can occur after interventional spinal procedures, of which symptoms are usually back pain and fever. Early diagnosis of infective spondylodiscitis is critical to start antibiotics and to improve prognosis. Laboratory examinations including complet blood cell count (CBC), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and C-reactive protein (CRP) are conventional tools for the early detection of infectious spondylitis. However, we experienced infective spondylodiscitis after cervical nucleoplasty which did not display any laboratory abnormalities, but was diagnosed through an MRI. A patient with cervical disc herniation received nucleoplasty at C5/6 and C6/7. One month later, the patient complained of aggravated pain. There were neither signs of chill nor fever, and the laboratory results appeared normal. However, the MRI findings were compatible with infectious spondylodiscitis at the nucleoplasty site. In conclusion, infectious spondylodiscitis can develop after cervical nucleoplasty without any laboratory abnormalities. Therefore, an MRI should be taken when there is a clinical suspicion for infection in order to not miss complications after interventional procedures, even if the laboratory findings are normal.
PMCID: PMC3629348  PMID: 23614083
complication; infection; magnetic resonance imaging; nucleoplasty; spondylodiscitis
8.  Foraminal stenosis complicating retained broken epidural needle tip -A case report- 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2010;59(Suppl):S69-S72.
Lumbar epidural anesthesia is useful in a variety of chronic benign pain syndromes, including lumbar radiculopathy, low back pain syndrome, spinal stenosis, and vertebral compression fractures. Given the increased number of epidural nerve blocks being performed, some have reported unexplained complications of a transient or permanent nature and with varying degrees of severity. However, no case has been reported of a broken epidural needle tip retained in the lumbar facet joint area. This represents the first reported case presentation of foraminal stenosis developing in a patient after a retained epidural needle tip.
PMCID: PMC3030061  PMID: 21286465
Broken epidural needle tip; Epidural anesthesia; Spinal stenosis
9.  Percutaneous posterior-lateral lumbar interbody fusion for degenerative disc disease using a B-Twin expandable spinal spacer 
European Spine Journal  2009;19(2):325-330.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) causes gradual intervertebral space collapse, concurrent discogenic or facet-induced pain, and possible compression radiculopathy. A new minimal invasion procedure of percutaneous posterior-lateral lumbar interbody fusion (PPLIF) using a B-Twin stand-alone expandable spinal spacer (ESS) was designed to treat this disease and evaluated by follow-up more than 1 year. 12 cases with chronic low back pain and compressive radiculopathy due to DDD refractory were selected to conservative treatment. Under fluoroscopy in the posterior-lateral position, a K-wire was advanced into the intervertebral space and a dilator and working cannula were introduced into the disc space step by step. Discectomy and endplate scratching were performed through the cannula using pituitary forceps and endplate curettage. An ESS was inserted into the intervertebral space by a B-Twin expandable spinal delivery system after some bone graft chips implanted into the disc space. The ongoing study includes intraoperative difficulties, complications, radiologic evidence of fusion and clinical outcome as scored by pre- and postoperative questionnaires pertaining to pain intensity and degree of disability. The 12 procedures of lumbar interbody fusion using stand-alone expandable spinal system through percutaneous approach were successful. Radiologic study demonstrated fusion in a total of 11 cases and only 1 exception after more than 1 year visiting. The values of Visual Analog Scale (VAS) on movement and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) dropped by more than 80 and 67.4%, respectively. Disk space heights averaging 9.0 mm before procedure were increased to 11.5 mm 1 month (a significant difference compared with preprocedure, P < 0.01) after surgery and stabilized at 10.8 mm upon final follow-up (a significant difference compared with preprocedure, P < 0.01). The results demonstrated that the percutaneous approach for posterior-lateral lumbar interbody fusion using expandable spinal system is a valuable micro-invasion method for the DDD patients and can achieve the same outcome as with other methods.
PMCID: PMC2899821  PMID: 19784677
Disk degenerative disease; Percutaneous; Lumbar interbody spinal fusion; Expandable spinal spacer; Stand-alone; B-Twin
10.  Vertebral Bone Mineral Measures and Psychological Wellbeing Among Individuals with Modic Changes 
This case-control pilot study examined whether vertebral bone mineral measures were associated with the presence of chronic low back pain (CLBP) and Modic changes (MCs), and to compare psychological wellbeing and inflammation among individuals with CLBP and MCs, compared to individuals with no history of low back pain and without MCs.
Eleven individuals with MRI-defined MCs in the lumbar spine and CLBP (cases) and 10 individuals with no history of CLBP or MCs (controls) responded to standard questionnaires regarding pain characteristics and psychological health. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured with postero-anterior and lateral-projection dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to estimate areal BMD (aBMD) and apparent volumetric BMD (ap.vBMD). High sensitivity serum C-reactive protein (hsCRP) was measured as an index of inflammation.
While there was no difference between the groups in measures of depression, anxiety and stress, cases reported significantly greater pain catastrophizing attitudes (P < 0.01). hsCRP concentrations did not differ between groups (P = 0.54). Among the 7 cases where MCs were identified between L3–4, significantly higher mean aBMD was observed at the affected vertebral level, compared to the adjacent, unaffected, cephalad level (P = 0.01–0.04), but not when ap.vBMD was calculated (P = 0.36).
Vertebral BMD is not reduced among individuals with CLBP and MCs compared to a control group, although pain catastrophizing attitudes are increased among individuals with CLBP and MCs.
PMCID: PMC3320114  PMID: 22493564
Modic change; bone mineral density; hsCRP; psychological health
11.  A stiff and straight back preoperatively is associated with a good outcome 2 years after lumbar disc surgery 
Acta Orthopaedica  2009;80(5):573-578.
Background and purpose The degree of lumbar lordosis and reduced lumbar mobility are regarded as important clinical features in patients with low back pain, and in lumbar disc herniation A more stiff back preoperatively in a proportion of patients has been shown to be associated with sequestered disc herniation. The main aim of this study was to investigate whether there was any correlation between lumbar lordosis and flexion on the one hand in patients with lumbar disc herniation who were scheduled for surgery, and postoperative pain and disability on the other. Our second aim was to determine the patterns of postoperative improvement in pain, perceived disability, and flexion/lordosis for 2 years after surgery.
Methods Pain (VAS), disability (DRI), lumbar flexion and lordosis (Debrunner's kyfometer) were measured pre- and postoperatively in 80 patients who underwent microscopic lumbar disc surgery.
Results Patients with preoperative hyperlordosis had more severe pain and more disability postoperatively than patients with hypolordosis. The level of pain did not change much from 2–6 weeks postoperatively until 2 years, while the perceived disability did not reach a steady state until 6 months after surgery.
Interpretation Patients with a stiff and flat back have a good prognosis after lumbar disc surgery, and in most cases the pain will reach the 2-year level during the first 2–6 weeks, while the physical restoration measured by the lumbar flexion and lordosis, and the perceived disability, will continue to improve over the first 6 months after surgery.
PMCID: PMC2823330  PMID: 19916692
12.  Conservative management of recurrent lumbar disk herniation with epidural fibrosis: a case report 
Journal of Chiropractic Medicine  2012;11(4):249-253.
A retrospective case report of a 24-year-old man with recurrent lumbar disk herniation and epidural fibrosis is presented. Recurrent lumbar disk herniation and epidural fibrosis are common complications following lumbar diskectomy.
Clinical Features
A 24-year-old patient had a history of lumbar diskectomy and new onset of low back pain and radiculopathy. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed recurrent herniation at L5/S1, left nerve root displacement, and epidural fibrosis.
Intervention and Outcomes
The patient received a course of chiropractic care including lumbar spinal manipulation and rehabilitation exercises with documented subjective and objective functional and symptomatic improvement.
This case report describes chiropractic management including spinal manipulative therapy and rehabilitation exercises and subsequent objective and subjective functional and symptomatic improvement.
PMCID: PMC3706706  PMID: 23843756
Low back pain; Recurrent; Disk displacement; Intervertebral; Chiropractic manipulation; Diskectomy
13.  Fluoroscopic caudal epidural injections in managing chronic axial low back pain without disc herniation, radiculitis, or facet joint pain 
Journal of Pain Research  2012;5:381-390.
Chronic low back pain without disc herniation is common. Various modalities of treatments are utilized in managing this condition, including epidural injections. However, there is continued debate on the effectiveness, indications, and medical necessity of any treatment modality utilized for managing axial or discogenic pain, including epidural injections.
A randomized, double-blind, actively controlled trial was conducted. The objective was to evaluate the ability to assess the effectiveness of caudal epidural injections of local anesthetic with or without steroids for managing chronic low back pain not caused by disc herniation, radiculitis, facet joints, or sacroiliac joints. A total of 120 patients were randomized to two groups; one group did not receive steroids (group 1) and the other group did (group 2). There were 60 patients in each group. The primary outcome measure was at least 50% improvement in Numeric Rating Scale and Oswestry Disability Index. Secondary outcome measures were employment status and opioid intake. These measures were assessed at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after treatment.
Significant pain relief and functional status improvement (primary outcome) defined as a 50% or more reduction in scores from baseline, were observed in 54% of patients in group 1 and 60% of patients in group 2 at 24 months. In contrast, 84% of patients in group 1 and 73% in group 2 saw significant pain relief and functional status improvement in the successful groups at 24 months.
Caudal epidural injections of local anesthetic with or without steroids are effective in patients with chronic axial low back pain of discogenic origin without facet joint pain, disc herniation, and/or radiculitis.
PMCID: PMC3474158  PMID: 23091395
chronic axial low back pain; discogenic pain; disc herniation; caudal epidural injections
14.  Lumbar Epidural Varix Mimicking Perineural Cyst 
Asian Spine Journal  2013;7(2):136-138.
Lumbar epidural varices are rare and usually mimick lumbar disc herniations. Back pain and radiculopathy are the main symptoms of lumbar epidural varices. Perineural cysts are radiologically different lesions and should not be confused with epidural varix. A 36-year-old male patient presented to us with right leg pain. The magnetic resonance imaging revealed a cystic lesion at S1 level that was compressing the right root, and was interpreted as a perineural cyst. The patient underwent surgery via right L5 and S1 hemilaminectomy, and the lesion was coagulated and removed. The histopathological diagnosis was epidural varix. The patient was clinically improved and the follow-up magnetic resonance imaging showed the absence of the lesion. Lumbar epidural varix should be kept in mind in the differential diagnosis of the cystic lesions which compress the spinal roots.
PMCID: PMC3669700  PMID: 23741553
Epidural; Varix; Perineural cyst; Surgery
15.  Radiculopathy Caused by Discal Cyst 
The Korean Journal of Pain  2013;27(1):86-89.
Discal cyst is an intraspinal cyst with a distinct communication with the corresponding intervertebral disc. It is a rare condition and could present with radiculopathy similar to that caused by lumbar disc herniation. We present a patient with a large discal cyst in the ventrolateral epidural space of the 5th lumbar vertebral (L5) level that communicated with the adjacent 4th lumbar and 5th lumbar intervertebral disc, causing L5 radiculopathy. We alleviated the radiating pain with selective transforaminal epidural blocks.
PMCID: PMC3903808  PMID: 24478908
epidural; injections; intervertebral disc displacement; radiculopathy; spine
16.  A case of back pain caused by Salmonella spondylitis -A case report- 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2010;59(Suppl):S233-S237.
Salmonella spondylitis is a rare illness, and it generally occurs in patients who have already had sickle cell anemia, and it is even rarer in patients who are without sickle cell anemia. A 61-year-old male patient was hospitalized for the evaluation of his renal function and then treatment was started for his back pain. His back pain had developed about 2 months previously without any specific trauma. Only a bulging disc was detected on the initial lumbar MRI. Regarding his fever, it was diagnosed as possible atypical pneumonia, scrub typhus, etc., and multiple antibiotic therapy was administered. At the time of transfer, the leucocytes and hs-CRP were normal and the ESR was elevated. A diagnostic epidural block was performed for his back pain, but his symptoms were not improved. Lumbar MRI was performed again and it showed findings of infective spondylitis. Salmonella D was identified on the abscess culture and so he was diagnosed as suffering from Salmonella spondylitis. After antibiotic treatment, his back pain was improved and the patient was able to walk.
PMCID: PMC3030045  PMID: 21286449
Back pain; Salmonella; Spondylitis
17.  Improvement of hip abductor muscle weakness after lumbar decompressive surgery 
Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences  2012;117(4):426-429.
Degenerative lumbar spinal disorder is common in Japan, and the L5 nerve root is commonly involved in this disorder. The symptoms of L5 radiculopathy are irradiating lateral leg pain, and numbness and weakness of tibialis anterior and the hip abductor muscle. There has been only one report on the results of surgery for hip abductor muscle weakness caused by degenerative lumbar spinal disorder.
Patients and methods.
In this study, we analyzed the strength of the hip abductor muscle before and after decompressive surgery in 26 cases and the relationship between the lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LSCS) groups.
Of the total 26 cases, muscle strength improved in 23 cases (88%), with complete recovery in 17 cases (65%). In the LDH group, the improvement rate was 92%. In the LSCS group, the improvement rate was 68%. Although the improvement rate for the LDH group was higher than that for the LSCS group, the difference was not significant (P = 0.054).
Decompressive surgery may be an effective method to improve hip abductor muscle weakness in degenerative lumbar spinal disorder.
PMCID: PMC3497212  PMID: 22876753
Decompressive surgery; degenerative lumbar spinal disorder; hip abductor muscle; L5 radiculopathy; muscle weakness
18.  Similar erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein sensitivities at the onset of septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, acute rheumatic fever 
Pediatric Reports  2010;2(1):e10.
The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) are employed in the evaluation of patients with suspected septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, and acute rheumatic fever. The purpose of this study is to determine if one test has greater sensitivity (rises earlier) than the other. Laboratory data were retrieved for pediatric patients hospitalized with one of the above three conditions, who had both ESR and CRP tests done on or shortly prior to admission. Sensitivity calculations were performed for mild, moderate, and severe degrees of ESR and CRP elevation. Microcytic erythrocytes, as defined by mean corpuscular volume (MCV) <80 µL, were identified to see if this affects the ESR. ESR or CRP sensitivities depend on the cutoff value (threshold) chosen as a positive test. The sensitivities were similar for similar degrees of elevation. ESR and CRP discordance was not significantly related to MCV. We concluded that the CRP does not rise earlier than the ESR (their sensitivities are similar). Previously published conclusions are dependent on arbitrary thresholds. We could not find any evidence that MCV affects the ESR.
PMCID: PMC3094010  PMID: 21589835
erythrocyte sedimentation rate; C-reactive protein; osteomyelitis; septic arthritis; acute rheumatic fever.
19.  AxiaLIF system: minimally invasive device for presacral lumbar interbody spinal fusion 
Lumbar fusion is commonly performed to alleviate chronic low back and leg pain secondary to disc degeneration, spondylolisthesis with or without concomitant lumbar spinal stenosis, or chronic lumbar instability. However, the risk of iatrogenic injury during traditional anterior, posterior, and transforaminal open fusion surgery is significant. The axial lumbar interbody fusion (AxiaLIF) system is a minimally invasive fusion device that accesses the lumbar (L4–S1) intervertebral disc spaces via a reproducible presacral approach that avoids critical neurovascular and musculoligamentous structures. Since the AxiaLIF system received marketing clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2004, clinical studies of this device have reported high fusion rates without implant subsidence, significant improvements in pain and function, and low complication rates. This paper describes the design and approach of this lumbar fusion system, details the indications for use, and summarizes the clinical experience with the AxiaLIF system to date.
PMCID: PMC3417883  PMID: 22915939
AxiaLIF; fusion; lumbar; minimally invasive; presacral
20.  Health-related quality of life and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis 
The present study sought to 1) investigate the degrees of correlations between different disease activity scores (DASs) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and 2) determine if DASs correlate with either physical or mental HRQoL.
Eighty patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were assessed for different DASs, measured with erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP), namely DAS4-ESR, DAS-3 ESR, DAS4-CRP, DAS3-CRP, DAS4-28 ESR, DAS3-28 ESR, DAS4-28 CRP, and DAS3-28 CRP, and Simplified Disease Activity Indexes namely SDAI-ESR, and SDAI-CRP. Physical and mental HRQoL were measured using the SF-36. The Pearson correlation test was employed to examine the correlations between HRQoL and different DAS indices. PASS 2000 (Power Analysis and Sample Size) software was utilized to find significant differences between the correlations.
SF-36 total score showed a significant inverse correlation with the DAS4-ESR, DAS-3 ESR, DAS4-CRP, DAS3-CRP, DAS4-28 ESR, DAS3-28 ESR, DAS4-28 CRP, and DAS3-28 CRP, with correlation coefficients of -0.320, -0.314, -0.330, -0.323, -0.327, -0.318, -0.360 and -0.348, respectively (P < 0.01 for all). The correlation coefficients between different DAS indices and the HRQoL score were not significantly different. In addition, all DASs showed significant correlations with physical HRQoL, but not with mental HRQoL.
Among patients with RA, disease severity indices are associated with physical, but not mental HRQoL. However this study failed to show any differences between various DASs in their clinical use.
PMCID: PMC3263102  PMID: 22279457
Health-Related Quality of Life; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Disease Activity Score
21.  Kinematic Evaluation of Association between Disc Bulge Migration, Lumbar Segmental Mobility, and Disc Degeneration in the Lumbar Spine Using Positional Magnetic Resonance Imaging 
Global Spine Journal  2011;1(1):43-48.
Degenerative disc disease and disc bulge in the lumbar spine are common sources of lower back pain. Little is known regarding disc bulge migration and lumbar segmental mobility as the lumbar spine moves from flexion to extension. In this study, 329 symptomatic (low back pain with or without neurological symptoms) patients with an average age of 43.5 years with varying degrees of disc degeneration were examined to characterize the kinematics of the lumbar intervertebral discs through flexion, neutral, and extension weight-bearing positions. In this population, disc bulge migration associated with dynamic motion of the lumbar spine significantly increased with increased grade of disk degeneration. Although no obvious trends relating the migration of disc bulge and angular segmental mobility were seen, translational segmental mobility tended to increase with disc bulge migration in all of the degenerative disc states. It appears that many factors, both static (intervertebral disc degeneration or disc height) and dynamic (lumbar segmental mobility), affect the mechanisms of lumbar disc bulge migration.
PMCID: PMC3864483  PMID: 24353937
lumbar disc bulge; intervertebral disc degeneration; disc height; lumbar segmental mobility; positional MRI
22.  Retrolisthesis and Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Pre-operative Assessment of Patient Function 
Retrolisthesis is relatively rare but when present has been associated with increased back pain and impaired back function. Neither the prevalence of this condition in individuals with lumbar disc herniations nor its possible relation to pre-operative back pain and dysfunction has been well studied.
The purposes of this study were as follows: 1) to determine the prevalence of retrolisthesis (alone or in combination with other degenerative conditions) in individuals with confirmed L5 – S1 disc herniation who later underwent lumbar discectomy; 2) to determine if there is any association between retrolisthesis and degenerative changes within the same vertebral motion segment; and 3) to determine the relation between retrolisthesis (alone or in combination with other degenerative conditions) and pre-operative low back pain, physical function, and quality of life.
Cross-sectional study.
A total of 125 individuals were identified for incorporation into this study. All patients had confirmed L5-S1 disc herniation on MRI and later underwent L5-S1 discectomy. All patients were enrolled in the SPORT (Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial) study; data was obtained from the multi-institutional database comprised of SPORT patients from across the United States.
Retrolisthesis, Degenerative change on MRI, Modic Changes.
MRI scans of the lumbar spine were assessed at spinal level L5–S1 for all 125 patients. Retrolisthesis was defined as posterior subluxation of 8% or more. Disc degeneration was defined as any loss of disc signal on T2 imaging. Modic changes were graded 1 – 3 and collectively classified as vertebral endplate degenerative changes. The presence of facet arthropathy and ligamentum flavum hypertrophy were classified jointly as posterior degenerative changes.
The overall incidence of retrolisthesis at L5-S1 in our study was 23.2%. Retrolisthesis combined with posterior degenerative changes, degenerative disc disease, or vertebral endplate changes had incidences of 4.8%, 16%, and 4.8% respectively. The prevalence of retrolisthesis did not vary by sex, age, race, smoking status, or education level when compared to individuals with normal sagittal alignment. However, individuals with retrolisthesis were more likely to be receiving worker compensation than those without retrolisthesis. Increased age was found to be associated with individuals having vertebral endplate degenerative changes (both alone and in conjunction with retrolisthesis) and degenerative disc disease. Individuals who had retrolisthesis with concomitant vertebral endplate degenerative changes were more often smokers and had no insurance. The presence of retrolisthesis was not associated with an increased incidence of having degenerative disc disease, posterior degenerative changes, or vertebral endplate changes. No statistical significance was found between the presence of retrolisthesis on the degree of patient pre-operative low back pain and physical function. Patients with degenerative disc disease were found to have increased leg pain compared to those patients without degenerative disc changes.
We found no significant relationship between retrolisthesis in patients with L5-S1 disc herniation and worse baseline pain or function. It is possible that the contribution of pain or dysfunction related to retrolisthesis was far overshadowed by the presence of symptoms due to the concomitant disc herniation. It remains to be seen whether retrolisthesis will affect outcome following discectomy in these patients.
PMCID: PMC2278018  PMID: 17630138
Retrolisthesis; Pre-operative; Lumbar Discectomy; Lumbar Disc Herniation; Back pain; Physical function; Degenerative Lumbar Disease
23.  Restoration of disk height through non-surgical spinal decompression is associated with decreased discogenic low back pain: a retrospective cohort study 
Because previous studies have suggested that motorized non-surgical spinal decompression can reduce chronic low back pain (LBP) due to disc degeneration (discogenic low back pain) and disc herniation, it has accordingly been hypothesized that the reduction of pressure on affected discs will facilitate their regeneration. The goal of this study was to determine if changes in LBP, as measured on a verbal rating scale, before and after a 6-week treatment period with non-surgical spinal decompression, correlate with changes in lumbar disc height, as measured on computed tomography (CT) scans.
A retrospective cohort study of adults with chronic LBP attributed to disc herniation and/or discogenic LBP who underwent a 6-week treatment protocol of motorized non-surgical spinal decompression via the DRX9000 with CT scans before and after treatment. The main outcomes were changes in pain as measured on a verbal rating scale from 0 to 10 during a flexion-extension range of motion evaluation and changes in disc height as measured on CT scans. Paired t-test or linear regression was used as appropriate with p < 0.05 considered to be statistically significant.
We identified 30 patients with lumbar disc herniation with an average age of 65 years, body mass index of 29 kg/m2, 21 females and 9 males, and an average duration of LBP of 12.5 weeks. During treatment, low back pain decreased from 6.2 (SD 2.2) to 1.6 (2.3, p < 0.001) and disc height increased from 7.5 (1.7) mm to 8.8 (1.7) mm (p < 0.001). Increase in disc height and reduction in pain were significantly correlated (r = 0.36, p = 0.044).
Non-surgical spinal decompression was associated with a reduction in pain and an increase in disc height. The correlation of these variables suggests that pain reduction may be mediated, at least in part, through a restoration of disc height. A randomized controlled trial is needed to confirm these promising results.
Clinical trial registration number
PMCID: PMC2912793  PMID: 20615252
24.  Postoperative changes of early-phase inflammatory indices after uncomplicated anterior cervical discectomy and fusion using allograft and demineralised bone matrix 
International Orthopaedics  2012;36(11):2293-2297.
We investigated sequential levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) in uncomplicated ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) using allograft and DBM (demineralised bone matrix) for primary cervical spondylosis and/or disc herniation. To our knowledge, there has been no study to investigate the diagnostic value of CRP and ESR for postoperative infection in ACDF using allograft and DBM.
Blood samples of 85 patients, who underwent one- (n = 51) or two-level (n = 34) ACDF, were obtained and evaluated before surgery and on the first, third, fifth, seventh, 14th, 30th, and 90th postoperative days. No infection was found in any patient for at least one year follow-up period.
Mean CRP value increased significantly on the first postoperative day and reached a peak on the third postoperative day. The peak level rapidly decreased but remained elevated on the fifth, seventh, and 14th postoperative days. Mean ESR value increased significantly and reached a peak on the third postoperative day. The peak level gradually decreased but remained elevated on the fifth and seventh postoperative days. One- and two-level ACDF exhibited similar postoperative changes in CRP and ESR values and no significant difference in mean levels of CRP and ESR throughout the follow-up periods.
This study demonstrates that uncomplicated ACDF using allograft and DBM showed significant abnormal values of CRP and ESR during the early postoperative period. This result suggests that abnormal values of CRP and ESR in the early postoperative period do not indicate acute postoperative infection after ACDF using allograft and DBM. Straying from the normal course, such as a second rise or a failure to decrease, of CRP and ESR is more important to signpost acute postoperative infection in ACDF using allograft and DBM.
PMCID: PMC3479300  PMID: 22918410
Lumbar discectomy is the surgical procedure most frequently performed for patients suffering from low back pain and sciatica. Disc herniation as a consequence of degenerative or traumatic processes is commonly encountered as the underlying cause for the painful condition. While discectomy provides favourable outcome in a majority of cases, there are conditions where unmet requirements exist in terms of treatment, such as large disc protrusions with minimal disc degeneration; in these cases, the high rate of recurrent disc herniation after discectomy is a prevalent problem. An effective biological annular repair could improve the surgical outcome in patients with contained disc herniations but otherwise minor degenerative changes. An attractive approach is a tissue-engineered implant that will enable/stimulate the repair of the ruptured annulus. The strategy is to develop three-dimensional scaffolds and activate them by seeding cells or by incorporating molecular signals that enable new matrix synthesis at the defect site, while the biomaterial provides immediate closure of the defect and maintains the mechanical properties of the disc. This review is structured into (1) introduction, (2) clinical problems, current treatment options and needs, (3) biomechanical demands, (4) cellular and extracellular components, (5) biomaterials for delivery, scaffolding and support, (6) pre-clinical models for evaluation of newly developed cell- and material-based therapies, and (7) conclusions. This article highlights that an interdisciplinary approach is necessary for successful development of new clinical methods for annulus fibrosus repair. This will benefit from a close collaboration between research groups with expertise in all areas addressed in this review.
PMCID: PMC3655691  PMID: 23283636
Annulus fibrosus rupture; disc herniation; disc biomechanics; biomaterial scaffold; pre-clinical model; interdisciplinary approach; annulus fibrosus tissue engineering; annulus fibrosus regeneration

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