Efficacy of an ethyl alcohol gel in symptomatic disc herniation

Eur J Radiol. 2018 Dec;109:101-107. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2018.10.029. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


Purpose: To evaluate the clinical outcome of DiscoGel® chemonucleolysis for symptomatic disc herniation in patients who fail conservative treatment.

Material and methods: Consecutive patients with symptomatic disc herniation confirmed on MRI who failed conservative management for at least 6 months were included. Visual analogue scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores, and analgesic use were recorded at baseline, and 12 months after treatment. Multidetector CT (MDCT) was performed at baseline, and 12 months after treatment to assess for DiscoGel® extravasation and alteration in treated disc volume. In a unique long-term subgroup analysis of 31 patients, telephonic follow-up was performed utilizing VAS and ODI parameters 7 years after the procedure.

Results: A total of 87 disc herniations were treated in 71 patients; majority (54%) were treated at L4/5 and L5/S1. VAS score of 8 before treatment was reduced to 3 at 12 months after treatment (p = 0.0001); ODI score of 51 before treatment was reduced to 15 at 12 months after treatment (p = 0.0001). Analgesic use of 70.4% was reduced to 29.6% after treatment. There were no symptomatic procedural complications; MDCT revealed 1 asymptomatic peri-neural DiscoGel® extravasation. In the 31 subjects that underwent telephonic follow-up the VAS and ODI parameters maintained their values without statistically significant differences when compared with the 12-month follow-up.

Conclusion: Patients with symptomatic disc herniation who failed conservative treatment and were treated with DiscoGel® chemonucleolysis achieved significant gains in pain relief and reduced disability without symptomatic complication. DiscoGel® chemonucleolysis is a feasible, minimally invasive technique for treatment of symptomatic disc herniation.

Keywords: Back pain; Chemonucleolysis; Disc herniation.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Back Pain / therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / administration & dosage*
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Gels
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Chemolysis / methods*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / therapy*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Gels
  • Ethanol