BACKGROUND: Lumbar herniated disc (HNP) is mainly treated by conservative management. Epidural steroid injection (ESI) has been an option to treat failed cases prior to surgery. Triamcinolone has been widely used due to its efficacy in bringing about pain reduction for up to three months. However, several reports have shown some severe adverse events. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is made from blood through centrifugation. Several studies supported the potential short to long-term effects, and safety of PRP injection in treating HNP. The study objective was to evaluate the efficacy of PRP in treatment of single-level lumbar HNP in comparison to triamcinolone.
METHODS: Thirty patients were treated by transforaminal epidural injections. PRP was obtained from 24 ml venous blood through standardized double-spin protocol. Participants included fifteen patients each being in triamcinolone and PRP groups. The same postoperative protocols and medications were applied. The visual analogue scale of leg (LegVAS), collected at baseline, 2, 6, 12, and 24 weeks, was the primary outcome. The BackVAS, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), adverse event, and treatment failure were the secondary endpoints.
RESULTS: Platelet ratio of PRP in fifteen patients was 2.86 ± 0.85. Patients treated by PRP injections showed statistically and clinically significant reduction in LegVAS at 6, 12, and 24 weeks, and in ODI at 24 weeks. It demonstrated comparable results on other aspects. No adverse event occurred in either group.
CONCLUSION: Noncommercial epidural double-spin PRP yielded superior results to triamcinolone. Due to its efficacy and safety, the procedure is recommended in treating single level lumbar HNP.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT, NCT05234840. Registered 1 January 2019, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/record/NCT05234840 .
There is some question as to what triple blinding refers to and the extent to which blinding of the outcome judges - the patients themselves - has been achieved. This is, however, an interesting RCT.