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Benefits and risks

Benefits and risks

When NICE looked at the evidence, it decided that there was not much good evidence about how well this procedure works. The 11 studies that NICE looked at involved a total of 2878 patients.

Generally, they showed the following benefits:

  • Pain relief in some patients, lasting up to 12 months after the procedure.

  • Slightly improved ability to carry out everyday tasks, in some patients.

The studies showed that the risks of percutaneous electrothermal treatment of the intervertebral disc annulus for low back pain and sciatica included:

  • The tip of the needle breaking off during the procedure. In some people, the needle tip could not be removed from the disc or surrounding tissues. This did not cause any ongoing symptoms. But 1 person needed more surgery to remove the needle tip because of pain.

  • Problems after the procedure including pain, burning sensation or numbness in the legs. These got better over time for most people, but some people needed more surgery. Two patients had difficulty controlling the bladder or bowels after the procedure.

  • Other problems with the disc, or because of scar tissue from the procedure, that needed more surgery.

NICE was also told about the possible risk of damage to the tissues or blood vessels.

If you want to know more about the studies, see the guidance. Ask your health professional to explain anything you don't understand.

  • Information Standard