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.