Intradiscal biacuplasty is an effective procedure to treat chronic discogenic pain, report researchers at the 23rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in New Orleans. Improvement in pain scores and functional capacity can be observed much earlier with intradiscal biacuplasty than with intradiscal electrothermal therapy suggesting some additional or/and different mechanisms of action. It also appears to be more effective than intradiscal electrothermal therapy producing more than 50% of the pain relief in more than 50% of patients.

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy has produced variable results in the pain reduction and functional improvement in patients with axial discogenic pain. A new procedure called intradiscal biacuplasty utilizes two radiofrequency electrodes placed on the opposite posterolateral sides of the treated annulus. This procedure is minimally invasive and provides an alternative to lumbar fusion or disc replacement surgery.

The researchers completed a pilot study of 13 patients who received intradiscal biacuplasty and were followed for six months. Following provocative discography patients underwent intradiscal biacuplasty. There were significant improvements of all of the indices (SF-36, Oswestry, Visual Analog Scale pain scores and opioid use) at the first follow-up at one month. Those improvements were maintained throughout six months of follow-up.

At six months after intradiscal biacuplasty, patient's median pain scores measured by Visual Analog Scale decreased from 7 to 3. Functional capacity significantly improved with Oswestry scores median decrease from 25 to 18, and SF-36 PF median increase from 55 to 70. Median SF-36 BP score increased from 35 to 58. Median opioid use expressed in morphine sulphate mg equivalents decreased from 40 to 5 mg. There were no significant differences in any of the indices from first to sixth month after intradiscal biacuplasty. There were eight of 13 patients who had Visual Analog Scale pain scores decreased by three or more points. There were no complications perioperatively or during follow-up.

Investigators: Leonardo Kapural, MD, PhD, Alan Ng, MD, and Nagy Mekhail, MD, PhD., from Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH.

Note: This article has been adapted from a news release issued by American Academy of Pain Medicine.