Preliminary studies investigating the Simplified Epiduralysis After Laminectomy/fusion (SEAL) technique to remove scar tissue or adhesions following failed back surgery suggest possible relief from postsurgical, chronic low back pain.

The SEAL procedure was performed on 30 patients who continued to experience low back and leg pain after back surgery. Among these patients, 74% reported short-to moderate-term pain relief. Nearly 40% reported greater than 50% pain relief. After 3 years of follow-up, only one patient went on to repeat lumbar spine surgery, according to a media release from Boston University School of Medicine.

The SEAL procedure uses a low-cost standard obstetric epidural kit to place the epidural (via catheter) near the postsurgical site. The goal is to break up scar tissue or adhesions that are pushing up against the nerves. There are more complex procedures and implantable devices that help failed back surgery, but SEAL is less invasive and done in one outpatient visit, per the release.

“SEAL could be an efficacious intervention for failed back surgery with a simplified procedure, lower costs, shorter procedure times, and minimal adverse events,” explaina author Michael Perloff, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, and lead author of a study investigating the SEAL procedure, published in Pain Medicine.

Perloff cautions that these findings could have bias, yet given their promising results a clinical trial is planned for next year.

[Source(s): Boston University School of Medicine, Science Daily]