Lumbar fusion has long-term benefits
Lumbar fusion is becoming an increasingly common treatment for low-back pain, but its long-term effects are relatively unknown. A doctoral thesis from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet now shows that the long-term effects are superior to those of physiotherapy.
Chronic low-back pain is treated increasingly often with lumbar fusion, by which several lower back vertebrae are fused in a way that has little impact on the back’s overall mobility. Lumbar fusion has been shown to relieve pain in the short term, but no studies have examined the long-term effects of the operation and compared them with alternative, non-surgical treatments like physiotherapy.
Per Ekman is a surgeon at Stockholm South General Hospital (Södersjukhuset), and has shown in his doctoral thesis that patients who have undergone lumbar fusion also improve in the longer term. His results are based on an evaluation of 111 patients, randomly assigned treatment with lumbar fusion or physiotherapy. On a follow-up nine years later, 76 per cent of the surgical group stated that they felt better than before the operation, compared with only 50 per cent of the physiotherapy group.
“Whether lumbar fusion should be used at all for this type of back pain has long been the subject of much debate,” says Dr Ekman. “My studies suggest that most patients who have undergone lumbar fusion actually feel better, and that the operation carries no great risk. However, long-term improvements are often relatively modest, and the operation should also continue to be used as a complement to physiotherapy when this treatment doesn’t help.”
His thesis shows that men, the physically active and the gainfully employed have somewhat higher chances of benefitting from the operation than others.
“This tells us something, but unfortunately there are still no good methods for finding those with the best chances of responding well to the operation,” says Dr Ekman.
Thesis: Lumbar fusion for chronic low-back pain in isthmic spondylolisthesis, Per Ekman, Department of Clinical Sciences, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet.
Katarina Sternudd | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...