No relationship between epidural fibrosis and sciatica in the lumbar postdiscectomy syndrome. A study with contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients

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STUDY DESIGN. Symptomatic patients were retrospectively analyzed and compared with a control group from an ongoing prospective and consecutive study. OBJECTIVES. To determine the presence and extent of epidural fibrosis in patients with and without recurrent sciatic pain after previous lumbar discectomy, contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance images were evaluated and correlated with surgical findings in the symptomatic patients. Recurrent hernia and bony stenosis were ruled out as the probable causative agent, as well as any morphologic explanation other than fibrosis. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA. Repeat surgical results for patients with the lumbar postdiscectomy syndrome with epidural fibrosis alone are often unfavorable. The pathogenic role of epidural fibrosis, however, has not been established. METHODS. The magnetic resonance images of eight patients with recurrent or persistent sciatic pain after lumbar discectomy were compared with those of eight asymptomatic patients constituting a control group. All were examined with magnetic resonance imaging on a 0.3 T unit before and after intravenous injection of gadolinium-DTPA, and clinically, 6 months to 4 years after surgery. The symptomatic patients subsequently underwent reoperation. RESULTS. Fourteen patients had focal or diffuse epidural fibrosis around the nerve root and/or the thecal sac at the operated level, whereas the postoperative findings for two patients were "normal," one in the operated and one in the control group. No difference between the groups regarding mass effect or affection of the nerve roots or thecal sac was noted. At reoperation of the eight symptomatic patients, fibrosis was the only pathologic finding in all cases except one, in which surgery confirmed the normal finding on magnetic resonance imaging. Six of the eight operated patients had recurrent or persistent symptoms within a year of the reoperation. CONCLUSION. No differences regarding the presence and extent of epidural fibrosis between the symptomatic and asymptomatic patients could be demonstrated with contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. The role of epidural fibrosis as the causative agent in the lumbar postdiscectomy syndrome is questioned.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Radiologi och bildbehandling
  • Ortopedi
Sidor (från-till)449-453
Utgåva nummer4
StatusPublished - 1995
Peer review utfördJa