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1.  CASINO: Surgical or Nonsurgical Treatment for cervical radiculopathy, a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Cervical radicular syndrome (CRS) due to a herniated disc can be safely treated by surgical decompression of the spinal root. In the vast majority of cases this relieves pain in the arm and restores function. However, conservative treatment also has a high chance on relieving symptoms. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the (cost-) effectiveness of surgery versus prolonged conservative care during one year of follow-up, and to evaluate the timing of surgery. Predisposing factors in favour of one of the two treatments will be evaluated.
Methods/design
Patients with disabling radicular arm pain, suffering for at least 2 months, and an MRI-proven herniated cervical disc will be randomised to receive either surgery or prolonged conservative care with surgery if needed. The surgical intervention will be an anterior discectomy or a posterior foraminotomy that is carried out according to usual care. Surgery will take place within 2–4 weeks after randomisation. Conservative care starts immediately after randomisation. The primary outcome measure is the VAS for pain or tingling sensations in the arm one year after randomisation. In addition, timing of surgery will be studied by correlating the primary outcome to the duration of symptoms. Secondary outcome measures encompass quality of life, costs and perceived recovery. Predefined prognostic factors will be evaluated. The total follow-up period will cover two years. A sample size of 400 patients is needed. Statistical analysis will be performed using a linear mixed model which will be based on the ‘intention to treat’ principle. In addition, a new CRS questionnaire for patients will be developed, the Leiden Cervical Radicular Syndrome Functioning (LCRSF) scale.
Discussion
The outcome will contribute to better decision making for the treatment of cervical radicular syndrome.
Trial registration
NTR3504
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-129
PMCID: PMC4012146  PMID: 24731301
Cervical herniated disc; Cervical radicular syndrome; Anterior discectomy; Foraminotomy; Cost-effectiveness; Conservative treatment; Randomized controlled trial; Shared decision making
2.  Design of the Verbiest trial: cost-effectiveness of surgery versus prolonged conservative treatment in patients with lumbar stenosis 
Background
Degenerative changes of lumbar spine anatomy resulting in the encroachment of neural structures are often regarded progressive, ultimately necessitating decompressive surgery. However the natural course is not necessarily progressive and the efficacy of a variety of nonsurgical interventions has also been described. At present there is insufficient data to compare surgical and nonsurgical interventions in terms of their relative benefit and safety. Previous attempts failed to provide clear clinical recommendations or to distinguish subgroups that substantially benefit from a certain treatment strategy. We present the design of a randomized controlled trial on (cost-) effectiveness of surgical decompression versus prolonged conservative treatment in patients with neurogenic intermittent claudication caused by lumbar stenosis.
Methods/Design
The aim of the Verbiest trial is to evaluate the effectiveness of prolonged conservative treatment compared to decompressive surgery. The study is a multi-center randomized controlled trial with two parallel groups design. Patients (age over 50) presenting to the neurologist or neurosurgeon with at least 3 months complaints of neurogenic intermittent claudication and considering surgical treatment are eligible for inclusion. Participants are randomly allocated to either prolonged conservative treatment, receiving further treatment from their general practitioner and physical therapist, or allocated to surgery and operated within 4 weeks. Primary outcome measure is the functional assessment of the patient as measured by the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire at 24 months of follow-up. Data is analyzed according to the intention to treat principle.
Discussion
With a cost-effectiveness analysis the trade off between the costs of prolonged conservative treatment and delayed surgery in a smaller number of patients are compared with the current policy of surgical management. As surgery is expected to be inevitable in certain subgroups of patients, the distinction of and classification by predictive patient characteristics is most relevant to clinical practice.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2216
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-57
PMCID: PMC3058072  PMID: 21371314
3.  The NEtherlands Cervical Kinematics (NECK) Trial. Cost-effectiveness of anterior cervical discectomy with or without interbody fusion and arthroplasty in the treatment of cervical disc herniation; a double-blind randomised multicenter study 
Background
Patients with cervical radicular syndrome due to disc herniation refractory to conservative treatment are offered surgical treatment. Anterior cervical discectomy is the standard procedure, often in combination with interbody fusion. Accelerated adjacent disc degeneration is a known entity on the long term. Recently, cervical disc prostheses are developed to maintain motion and possibly reduce the incidence of adjacent disc degeneration. A comparative cost-effectiveness study focused on adjacent segment degeneration and functional outcome has not been performed yet. We present the design of the NECK trial, a randomised study on cost-effectiveness of anterior cervical discectomy with or without interbody fusion and arthroplasty in patients with cervical disc herniation.
Methods/Design
Patients (age 18-65 years) presenting with radicular signs due to single level cervical disc herniation lasting more than 8 weeks are included. Patients will be randomised into 3 groups: anterior discectomy only, anterior discectomy with interbody fusion, and anterior discectomy with disc prosthesis. The primary outcome measure is symptomatic adjacent disc degeneration at 2 and 5 years after surgery. Other outcome parameters will be the Neck Disability Index, perceived recovery, arm and neck pain, complications, re-operations, quality of life, job satisfaction, anxiety and depression assessment, medical consumption, absenteeism, and costs. The study is a randomised prospective multicenter trial, in which 3 surgical techniques are compared in a parallel group design. Patients and research nurses will be kept blinded of the allocated treatment for 2 years. The follow-up period is 5 years.
Discussion
Currently, anterior cervical discectomy with fusion is the golden standard in the surgical treatment of cervical disc herniation. Whether additional interbody fusion or disc prothesis is necessary and cost-effective will be determined by this trial.
Trial Registration
Netherlands Trial Register NTR1289
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-122
PMCID: PMC2893084  PMID: 20553591
4.  The Felix-trial. Double-blind randomization of interspinous implant or bony decompression for treatment of spinal stenosis related intermittent neurogenic claudication 
Background
Decompressive laminotomy is the standard surgical procedure in the treatment of patients with canal stenosis related intermittent neurogenic claudication. New techniques, such as interspinous process implants, claim a shorter hospital stay, less post-operative pain and equal long-term functional outcome. A comparative (cost-) effectiveness study has not been performed yet. This protocol describes the design of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on (cost-) effectiveness of the use of interspinous process implants versus conventional decompression surgery in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.
Methods/Design
Patients (age 40-85) presenting with intermittent neurogenic claudication due to lumbar spinal stenosis lasting more than 3 months refractory to conservative treatment, are included. Randomization into interspinous implant surgery versus bony decompression surgery will take place in the operating room after induction of anesthesia. The primary outcome measure is the functional assessment of the patient measured by the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire (ZCQ), at 8 weeks and 1 year after surgery. Other outcome parameters include perceived recovery, leg and back pain, incidence of re-operations, complications, quality of life, medical consumption, absenteeism and costs. The study is a randomized multi-institutional trial, in which two surgical techniques are compared in a parallel group design. Patients and research nurses are kept blinded of the allocated treatment during the follow-up period of 1 year.
Discussion
Currently decompressive laminotomy is the golden standard in the surgical treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis. Whether surgery with interspinous implants is a reasonable alternative can be determined by this trial.
Trial register
Dutch Trial register number: NTR1307
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-100
PMCID: PMC2885320  PMID: 20507568
5.  Effectiveness of percutaneous laser disc decompression versus conventional open discectomy in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation; design of a prospective randomized controlled trial 
Background
The usual surgical treatment of refractory sciatica caused by lumbar disc herniation, is open discectomy. Minimally invasive procedures, including percutaneous therapies under local anesthesia, are increasingly gaining attention. One of these treatments is Percutaneous Laser Disc Decompression (PLDD). This treatment can be carried out in an outpatient setting and swift recovery and return to daily routine are suggested. Thus far, no randomized trial into cost-effectiveness of PLDD versus standard surgical procedure has been performed. We present the design of a randomized controlled trial, studying the cost-effectiveness of PLDD versus conventional open discectomy in patients with sciatica from lumbar disc herniation.
Methods/design
The study is a randomized prospective multi-center trial, in which two treatment strategies are compared in a parallel group design. Patients (age 18–70 years) visiting the neurosurgery department of the participating hospitals, are considered for inclusion in the trial when sciatica due to lumbar disc herniation has lasted more than 8 weeks. Patients with disc herniation smaller than 1/3 of the spinal canal diameter, without concomitant lateral recess stenosis or sequestration, are eligible for participation, and are randomized into one of two treatment arms; either Percutaneous Laser Disc Decompression or conventional discectomy. The functional outcome of the patient, as assessed by the Roland Disability Questionnaire for Sciatica at 8 weeks and 1 year after treatment, is the primary outcome measure. The secondary outcome parameters are recovery as perceived by the patient, leg and back pain, incidence of re-intervention, complications, quality of life, medical consumption, absence of work and secondary costs.
Discussion
Open discectomy is still considered to be the golden standard in the surgical treatment of lumbar disc herniation. Whether Percutaneous Laser Disc Decompression has at least as much efficacy as the standard surgical procedure, and is more cost-effective, will be determined by this trial.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN25884790.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-10-49
PMCID: PMC2697136  PMID: 19439098
6.  Cost-effectiveness of decompression according to Gill versus instrumented spondylodesis in the treatment of sciatica due to low grade spondylolytic spondylolisthesis: A prospective randomised controlled trial [NTR1300] 
Background
Nerve root decompression with instrumented spondylodesis is the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the treatment of patients with symptomatic low-grade spondylolytic spondylolisthesis. Nerve root decompression without instrumented fusion, i.e. Gill's procedure, is an alternative and less invasive approach. A comparative cost-effectiveness study has not been performed yet. We present the design of a randomised controlled trial on cost-effectiveness of decompression according to Gill versus instrumented spondylodesis.
Methods/design
All patients (age between 18 and 70 years) with sciatica or neurogenic claudication lasting more than 3 months due to spondylolytic spondylolisthesis grade I or II, are eligible for inclusion. Patients will be randomly allocated to nerve root decompression according to Gill, either unilateral or bilateral, or pedicle screw fixation with interbody fusion. The main primary outcome measure is the functional assessment of the patient measured with the Roland Disability Questionnaire for Sciatica at 12 weeks and 2 years. Other primary outcome measures are perceived recovery and intensity of leg pain and low back pain. The secondary outcome measures include, incidence of re-operations, complications, serum creatine phosphokinase, quality of life, medical consumption, costs, absenteeism, work perception, depression and anxiety, and treatment preference. The study is a randomised prospective multicenter trial in which two surgical techniques are compared in a parallel group design. Patients and research nurse will not be blinded during the follow-up period of 2 years.
Discussion
Currently, nerve root decompression with instrumented fusion is the golden standard in the surgical treatment of low-grade spondylolytic spondylolisthesis, although scientific proof justifying instrumented spondylodesis over simple decompression is lacking. This trial is designed to elucidate the controversy in best surgical treatment of symptomatic patients with low-grade spondylolytic spondylolisthesis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-128
PMCID: PMC2570682  PMID: 18822175
7.  Cost-effectiveness of microendoscopic discectomy versus conventional open discectomy in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation: a prospective randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN51857546] 
Background
Open discectomy is the standard surgical procedure in the treatment of patients with long-lasting sciatica caused by lumbar disc herniation. Minimally invasive approaches such as microendoscopic discectomy have gained attention in recent years. Reduced tissue trauma allows early ambulation, short hospital stay and quick resumption of daily activities. A comparative cost-effectiveness study has not been performed yet. We present the design of a randomised controlled trial on cost-effectiveness of microendoscopic discectomy versus conventional open discectomy in patients with lumbar disc herniation.
Methods/Design
Patients (age 18–70 years) presenting with sciatica due to lumbar disc herniation lasting more than 6–8 weeks are included. Patients with disc herniation larger than 1/3 of the spinal canal diameter, or disc herniation less than 1/3 of the spinal canal diameter with concomitant lateral recess stenosis or sequestration, are eliglible for participation. Randomisation into microendoscopic discectomy or conventional unilateral transflaval discectomy will take place in the operating room after induction of anesthesia. The length of skin incision is equal in both groups. The primary outcome measure is the functional assessment of the patient, measured by the Roland Disability Questionnaire for Sciatica, at 8 weeks and 1 year after surgery. We will also evaluate several other outcome parameters, including perceived recovery, leg and back pain, incidence of re-operations, complications, serum creatine kinase, quality of life, medical consumption, absenteeism and costs. The study is a randomised prospective multi-institutional trial, in which two surgical techniques are compared in a parallel group design. Patients and research nurses are kept blinded of the allocated treatment during the follow-up period of 2 years.
Discussion
Currently, open discectomy is the golden standard in the surgical treatment of lumbar disc herniation. Whether microendoscopic discectomy is more cost-effective than unilateral transflaval discectomy has to be determined by this trial.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-7-42
PMCID: PMC1475863  PMID: 16696861
8.  Rationale and design of The Delphi Trial – I(RCT)2: international randomized clinical trial of rheumatoid craniocervical treatment, an intervention-prognostic trial comparing 'early' surgery with conservative treatment [ISRCTN65076841] 
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease, which affects 1% of the population. Hands and feet are most commonly involved followed by the cervical spine. The spinal column consists of vertebrae stabilized by an intricate network of ligaments. Especially in the upper cervical spine, rheumatoid arthritis can cause degeneration of these ligaments, causing laxity, instability and subluxation of the vertebral bodies. Subsequent compression of the spinal cord and medulla oblongata can cause severe neurological deficits and even sudden death. Once neurological deficits occur, progression is inevitable although the rapidity of progression is highly variable. The first signs and symptoms are pain at the back of the head caused by compression of the major occipital nerve, followed by loss of strength of arms and legs. The severity of the subluxation can be observed with radiological investigations (MRI, CT) with a high sensitivity.
The authors have sent a Delphi Questionnaire about the current treatment strategies of craniocervical involvement by rheumatoid arthritis to an international forum of expert rheumatologists and surgeons. The timing of surgery in patients with radiographic instability without evidence of neurological deficit is an area of considerable controversy. If signs and symptoms of myelopathy are present there is little chance of recovery to normal levels after surgery.
Design
In this international multicenter randomized clinical trial, early surgical atlantoaxial fixation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and radiological abnormalities without neurological deficits will be compared with prolonged conservative treatment. The main research question is whether early surgery can prevent radiological and neurological progression. A cost-effectivity analysis will be performed. 250 patients are needed to answer the research question.
Discussion
Early surgery could prevent serious neurological deficits, but may have peri-operative morbidity and loss of rotation of the head and neck. The objective of this study is to identify the best timing of surgery for patients at risk for the development of neurological signs and symptoms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-7-14
PMCID: PMC1420300  PMID: 16483360
9.  Prolonged conservative treatment or 'early' surgery in sciatica caused by a lumbar disc herniation: rationale and design of a randomized trial [ISRCT 26872154] 
Background
The design of a randomized multicenter trial is presented on the effectiveness of a prolonged conservative treatment strategy compared with surgery in patients with persisting intense sciatica (lumbosacral radicular syndrome).
Methods/design
Patients presenting themselves to their general practitioner with disabling sciatica lasting less than twelve weeks are referred to the neurology outpatient department of one of the participating hospitals. After confirmation of the diagnosis and surgical indication MRI scanning is performed. If a distinct disc herniation is discerned which in addition covers the clinically expected site the patient is eligible for randomization. Depending on the outcome of the randomization scheme the patient will either be submitted to prolonged conservative care or surgery. Surgery will be carried out according to the guidelines and between six and twelve weeks after onset of complaints. The experimental therapy consists of a prolonged conservative treatment under supervision of the general practitioner, which may be followed by surgical intervention in case of persisting or progressive disability. The main primary outcome measure is the disease specific disability of daily functioning. Other primary outcome measures are perceived recovery and intensity of legpain. Secondary outcome measures encompass severity of complaints, quality of life, medical consumption, absenteeism, costs and preference. The main research question will be answered at 12 months after randomization. The total follow-up period covers two years.
Discussion
Evidence is lacking concerning the optimal treatment of lumbar disc induced sciatica. This pragmatic randomized trial, focusses on the 'timing' of intervention, and will contribute to the decision of the general practictioner and neurologist, regarding referral of patients for surgery.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-6-8
PMCID: PMC551598  PMID: 15707491

Results 1-9 (9)