Long-term outcomes following intraosseous basivertebral nerve ablation for the treatment of chronic low back pain: 5-year treatment arm results from a prospective randomized double-blind sham-controlled multi-center study

Eur Spine J. 2020 Aug;29(8):1925-1934. doi: 10.1007/s00586-020-06448-x. Epub 2020 May 25.


Background: Damaged or degenerated vertebral endplates are a significant cause of vertebrogenic chronic low back pain (CLBP). Modic changes are one objective MRI biomarker for these patients. Prior data from the treatment arm of a sham-controlled, RCT showed maintenance of clinical improvements at 2 years following ablation of the basivertebral nerve (BVN). This study reports 5-year clinical outcomes.

Methods: In total, 117 US patients were treated successfully with BVN ablation. Patient-reported outcomes of ODI, VAS, postablation treatments, and patient satisfaction were collected at a minimum of 5-years following BVN ablation. Primary outcome was mean change in ODI. Comparisons between the postablation and baseline values were made using an analysis of covariance with alpha 0.05.

Results: Of the 117 US treated patients 100 (85%) were available for review with a mean follow-up of 6.4 years (5.4-7.8 years). Mean ODI score improved from 42.81 to 16.86 at 5-year follow-up, a reduction of 25.95 points (p < 0.001). Mean reduction in VAS pain score was 4.38 points (baseline of 6.74, p < 0.001). In total, 66% of patients reported a > 50% reduction in pain, 47% reported a > 75% reduction in pain, and 34% of patients reported complete pain resolution. Composite responder rate using thresholds of ≥ 15-point ODI and ≥ 2-point VAS for function and pain at 5 years was 75%.

Conclusion: CLBP patients treated with BVN ablation exhibit sustained clinical improvements in function and pain with high responder rates at a mean of 6.4 years following treatment. BVN ablation is a durable, minimally invasive treatment for vertebrogenic CLBP.

Keywords: Basivertebral nerve; Chronic low back pain; Modic; Radiofrequency ablation; Randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / surgery
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain* / surgery
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome