Isolated Lumbar Disc Disease Can be Determined by Non-Invasive Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) and Responds to Surgery. Non-Invasive Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy scans for certain disc chemicals- lactate (LA) and proteoglycan (PG), as quantifiable biomarkers for discogenic pain. It was found to have “total accuracy of 85%, sensitivity of 82%, and specificity of 88%. These increased to 93%, 91%, and 93%
respectively, in non-herniated discs” – when compared to provocative discography (PD). Surgery to positive discs made it practical: :”when all MRS positive discs were treated, surgical success was 97% versus 57% when the treated level was MRS negative, or 54% when the non-treated adjacent level was MRS positive.”
Eur Spine J. 2019 Jan 4. doi: 10.1007/s00586-018-05873-3. [Epub ahead of print]
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) can identify painful lumbar discs and may
facilitate improved clinical outcomes of lumbar surgeries for discogenic pain.
Gornet MG et al.
- “Discogenic” CLBP (DLBP) diagnosis often results from a process of elimination to rule out other pathology, as well as MRI evidence of at least one degenerated disc as a potential etiology of pain.
Discogenic back pain is a condition that abhors flexion. A study which isolated discogenic back pain by discoblock and found flexion by bending forward, and by sitting was not well tolerated:
Tonosu, Juichi, et al.
Diagnosing discogenic low back pain associated with degenerative disc disease using a medical interview.
PloS one 11.11 (2016): e0166031.
- 42 degenerative disc disease; 30 controls
- average age was 53.9 years in the DDD group and 71.1 years in the control group (not good but they felt other features were equal)
- pain localized between the costal margin and the inferior gluteal folds
- >/= grade 4 degeneration on sagittal T2-weighted MRI based on Pfirrmann’s grading system  considered disc degeneration
- successful discoblock = less than 50% of pain left after “a 1-mL injection of 1% lidocaine into the disc” distinguished disogenic
raw data results:
Hence discogenic back pains do not like flexion.
As for the first study,
- pain >4/10 with pain into legs < 3/10
- scans for certain disc chemicals- lactate (LA) and proteoglycan (PG)
- “total accuracy of 85%, sensitivity of 82%, and specificity of 88%.
These increased to 93%, 91%, and 93% respectively, in non-herniated discs”
Using these results to do surgery:
- “when all MRS positive discs were treated, surgical success was 97% versus 57% when the treated level was MRS negative, or 54% when the non-treated adjacent level was MRS positive.
Comment – flexion intolerant back pain could be discogenic. Up to now, provocative discogram or successful discoblock might be needed for diagnosis. It looks like Non-Invasive Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy scans might be suitable substitute.