Lumbar disk herniation: MR imaging assessment of natural history in patients treated without surgery

Radiology. 1992 Oct;185(1):135-41. doi: 10.1148/radiology.185.1.1523297.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the evolution of lumbar disk herniation in patients treated without surgery. Sixty-nine patients with a lumbar disk herniation proved at magnetic resonance (MR) imaging underwent a follow-up MR imaging study. The disk herniations evaluated during both MR imaging examinations were measured and classified into four categories according to the change in size that occurred. The patients were also divided into three clinical classes on the basis of the clinical outcome. Sixty-three percent of the patients showed a reduction of disk herniation of more than 30% (48% had a reduction of more than 70%), while only 8% demonstrated worsening of the clinical picture. These findings suggest that lumbar disk herniation may be primarily a medical (nonsurgical) disease and that MR imaging could play an important role in management of and research into the disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / therapy
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Middle Aged