Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the prognostic value of computerized tomography (CT) in the conservative treatment of patients with chronic non-progressive back pain. The study included 73 patients with chronic non-progressive back pain in the lumbar region of at least 3-months duration who were referred to the back clinic because of pain that was non-responsive to physical therapy and analgesics. All patients underwent clinical examination and spinal CT scan. The clinical examination and imaging procedures were followed by a 4-week rehabilitation programme based on a multidisciplinary approach that included a rheumatologist, a pain specialist, back school, “Alexander” technique, acupuncture, manipulation and psychological intervention. Patients were evaluated by the same physician at the end of the 4-week programme and after 6 months follow-up using parameters of pain rating, pain frequency and analgesic drug consumption. CT examinations were evaluated separately by two radiologists. The patients were divided into three groups according to the CT findings: group 1 — normal imaging: 26 patients; group 2 — spinal stenosis: 20 patients; group 3 — posterior bulging, protrusion, extrusion or sequestration of disc: 27 patients. The clinical improvement was almost the same (=50%) in the three different groups. In spite of the small number of cases, the results were statistically significant. We concluded that, in contrast to the importance of modern spinal-imaging procedures before the performance of surgery, the role of these procedures in the prognosis of the conservative treatment of patients with chronic non-progressive back pain does not seem to be important.
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