News | February 09, 2009

Imaging Low-Back Pain Without Serious Conditions Does Not Improve Outcomes

February 10, 2009 - The routine use of radiography, MRI or CT scans in patients with low-back pain but no indication of a serious underlying condition does not improve clinical outcomes, and doctors should refrain from immediate scanning unless they observe features of a serious underlying condition, according to conclusions from an article in this week’s edition of The Lancet.

In the study, written by a team led by Roger Chou, M.D., Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, the researchers did a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that compared immediate back imaging - using one of the three scanning types above - with usual clinical care that does not involve immediate imaging. Six trials covering more than 1800 patients were included, reporting a range of outcomes including pain and function, quality of life, mental health, overall patient-reported improvement, and patient satisfaction. The analysis found no significant differences between immediate imaging and usual clinical care. The authors say that the results are most applicable to acute or sub-acute low-back pain of the type assessed in primary-care setting, ie, at the patient's family doctor.

The authors said: "Lumbar imaging for low-back pain without indications of serious underlying conditions does not improve clinical outcomes. Therefore, clinicians should refrain from routine, immediate lumbar imaging in patients with acute or subacute low-back pain and without features suggesting a serious underlying condition."

They added: "Rates of utilization of lumbar MRI are increasing, and implementation of diagnostic-imaging guidelines for low-back pain remains a challenge. However, clinicians are more likely to adhere to guideline recommendations about lumbar imaging now that these are supported by consistent evidence from higher-quality randomized controlled trials. Patient expectations and preferences about imaging should also be addressed, because 80 percent of patients with low-back pain in one trial would undergo radiography if given the choice, despite no benefits with routine imaging. Educational interventions could be effective for reducing the proportion of patients with low-back pain who believe that routine imaging should be done. We need to identify back-pain assessment and educational strategies that meet patient expectations and increase satisfaction, while avoiding unnecessary imaging."

In an accompanying comment, Professor Michael M. Kochen, department of general practice, University of Göttingen, Germany, and colleagues discuss how certain factors could hamper doctors changing practice to avoid immediate imaging, "such as patients' expectations about diagnostic testing, reimbursement structures providing financial incentives, or the fear of missing relevant pathology." They conclude: "Meanwhile a promising approach seems to be the way of educating patients in and outside general practitioners surgeries."

Source: The Lancet (The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9662, Pages 463 - 472, 7 February 2009)

For more information: http://www.thelancet.com

Related Content

Technology | Focused Ultrasound Therapy | June 19, 2018
EDAP TMS SA has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Focal One device for...
Report Finds Identifying Patients for Lung Cancer Screening Not So Simple
News | Lung Cancer | June 18, 2018
New findings in the current issue of The American Journal of Managed Care suggest that getting the right patients to...
Elekta Unity High-Field MR-Linac Receives CE Mark
News | Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) | June 18, 2018
Elekta announced that its Elekta Unity magnetic resonance radiation therapy (MR/RT) system has received CE mark,...
Weight-Bearing CT International Study Group Hosts  Scientific Session at AOFAS Conference
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | June 15, 2018
June 15, 2018 —The Weight-Bearing CT International Study Group will host a scientific session on the benefits of weig
New U.S. Tariffs on Chinese Goods Include Imaging Equipment
News | Radiology Business | June 15, 2018 | Jeff Zagoudis, Associate Editor
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released the much-anticipated list of Chinese-manufactured goods...
Florida Hospital First in State to Adopt NeuroLogica's BodyTom Elite CT
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | June 14, 2018
June 14, 2018 — NeuroLogica, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co.
Washington University in St. Louis Begins Clinical Treatments With ViewRay MRIdian Linac
News | Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) | June 14, 2018
June 14, 2018 — The Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in S
Riverain Technologies Issued U.S. Patent for Vessel Suppression Technology
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | June 14, 2018
Riverain Technologies announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has awarded the company a...
360 Photos | 360 View Photos | June 14, 2018
This is a 360 degree image from the Canon Aquilion 64-slice...
American Society of Neuroradiology Honors Peter Chang with Cornelius G. Dyke Memorial Award
News | Neuro Imaging | June 13, 2018
Peter Chang, M.D., current neuroradiology fellow at UCSF and recently recruited co-director of the UCI Center for...
Overlay Init