A Prospective, Randomized, Multicenter, Open-label Clinical Trial Comparing Intradiscal Biacuplasty to Conventional Medical Management for Discogenic Lumbar Back Pain

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Jul 1;41(13):1065-74. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001412.


Study design: This study was a prospective, randomized, crossover, multicenter trial for the evaluation of comparative effectiveness of intradiscal biacuplasty (IDB) versus conventional medical management (CMM) in the treatment of lumbar discogenic pain.

Objective: The objective was to demonstrate the superiority of IDB over CMM in the treatment of discogenic pain with respect to the primary outcome measure.

Summary of background data: Current therapeutic options for the treatment of chronic low back pain of discogenic origin are limited. CMM is often unsatisfactory with regard to the treatment of discogenic pain. IDB offers a minimally invasive treatment that has been demonstrated to be superior to placebo in the past.

Methods: A total of 63 subjects with lumbar discogenic pain diagnosed via provocation discography were randomized to IDB + CMM (n = 29) or CMM-alone (n = 34). At 6 months, patients in the CMM-alone group were eligible for crossover if desired. The primary outcome measure was the change in visual analog scale (VAS) from baseline to 6 months. Secondary outcome measures included treatment "responders," defined as the proportion of subjects with a 2-point or 30% decrease in VAS scores. Other secondary measures included changes from baseline to 6 months in (1) short form (SF) 36-physical functioning, (2) Oswestry Disability Index, (3) Beck Depression Inventory, (4) Patient Global Impression of Change, (5) EQ-5D VAS, and (6) back pain-related medication usage.

Results: In the IDB cohort, the mean VAS score reduction exceeded that in the CMM cohort (-2.4 vs. -0.56; P = 0.02), and the proportion of treatment responders was substantially greater (50% vs. 18%). Differences in secondary measures favored IDB. No differences in opioid utilization were noted between groups.

Conclusion: Superior performance of IDB with respect to all study outcomes suggests that it is a more effective treatment for discogenic pain than CMM-alone.

Level of evidence: 2.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / standards
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Management / standards
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain Measurement / standards
  • Prospective Studies