Author(s): Cohen SP, Wenzell D, Hurley RW, Kurihara C, Buckenmaier CC rd,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: In recent years, convincing evidence has emerged implicating tumor necrosis factor alpha as a causative factor in radiculopathy and discogenic back pain. But although preliminary open-label studies demonstrated promising results for the treatment of low back pain with tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors, early optimism has been tainted by a controlled study showing no significant benefit in sciatica. To determine whether outcomes might be improved by a more direct route of administration, the authors evaluated escalating doses of intradiscal etanercept in 36 patients with chronic lumbosacral radiculopathy or discogenic low back pain. METHODS: A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted whereby six patients received 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, or 1.5 mg etanercept intradiscally in each pain-generating disc. In each escalating dose group of six patients, one received placebo. A neurologic examination and postprocedure leukocyte counts were performed in all patients at 1-month follow-up visits. In patients who experienced significant improvement in pain scores and function, follow-up visits were conducted 3 and 6 months after the procedure. RESULTS: At 1-month follow-up, no differences were found for pain scores or disability scores between or within groups for any dose range or subgroup of patients. Only eight patients remained in the study after 1 month and elected to forego further treatment. No complications were reported, and no differences were noted between preprocedure and postprocedure leukocyte counts. CONCLUSIONS: Although no serious side effects were observed in this small study, a single low dose of intradiscal etanercept does not seem to be an effective treatment for chronic radicular or discogenic low back pain.
This article was published in Anesthesiology
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy