University of Toronto researchers have suggested a new minimal invasive therapy for relieving the pain of herniated disks.
The minimally invasive interventional radiology treatment uses oxygen/ozone to relieve the chronic pain of herniated disks.
"Having a herniated disk can affect how you perform everyday activities and can cause severe pain that influences almost everything you do; however, you don't have to undergo invasive surgery," said Dr Kieran J. Murphy, interventional neuroradiologist and vice chair and chief of medical imaging at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Oxygen/ozone therapy involves injecting a gas mixture of oxygen and ozone into a herniated disk. The treatment can limit pain and inflammation by reducing the disk's volume.
Currently, open diskectomy and microdiskectomy (both involving removal of disk material through an incision) are used for treating the herniated disk.
"Oxygen/ozone treatment of herniated disks is an effective and extremely safe procedure; interventional radiologists use imaging to guide a needle to inject oxygen/ozone into injured disks," said Murphy.
"The estimated improvement in pain and function is impressive when we looked at patients who ranged in age from 13 to 94 years with all types of disk herniations.
"Equally important, pain and function outcomes are similar to the outcomes for lumbar disks treated with surgical diskectomy, but the complication rate is much less (less than 0.1 percent)," he added.
"In addition, the recovery time is significantly shorter for the oxygen/ozone injection than for the diskectomy," said Murphy.
"The spine is a stunningly beautiful piece of engineering, or, as our engineers say, the spine is like a complex electromechanical system. And the interventional radiology oxygen/ozone treatment takes a minimalist approach. It's all about being gentle.
"Ozone shrinks disk volume; this is why it provides pain relief," he added.
The study was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 34th Annual Scientific Meeting.