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Lower Spine News

Discectomy Better Than Doing Nothing for Some Patients

Spine surgeons rely on the results of the Cochrane Collaboration review to help them keep up to date. The Cochrane Collaboration was started in 1993. It is made up of a group of over 6,000 specialists in health care. These experts review biomedical trials and results of other research.

Only studies of the highest quality are included in the review process. Researchers and clinicians know they can depend on the review for accurate information. In the year 2000, the Cochrane Review published its findings on surgery as a form of treatment for lumbar disc problems.

A new review was published in 2006 with the following updates:
  • Studies show that most disc bulges resolve on their own with time
  • Surgery should be saved for those patients who don't recover in a reasonable
    amount of time
  • Discectomy (disc removal) works better than chemonucleolysis (injection of
    chemicals to dissolve the disc)
  • Discectomy gives some patients fast relief from sciatica (back and leg pain)
  • Laser discectomy is being studied but no conclusive results have been reported

    Other new studies on the horizon are the use of gels and fat grafts to prevent scar tissue from forming after discectomy. There aren't enough findings to report on this type of treatment yet. The long-term results of discectomy versus no discectomy have not been reported yet, either.

    The Cochrane Review will continue to step back and take a look at treatment options for disc problems. In time, it may become clear what treatment works best and for which patients.

    The Cochrane Collaboration on Disc Surgery: New Systematic Review of Treatment Options. The BACK Letter. February 2007. Vol. 22. No. 2. Pp. 15.


    *Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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