January 26, 2016
1 min read

Methylene blue shows promise in reducing low back pain after lumbar open discectomy

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A single dose of methylene blue to coat the dura and surrounding areas can effectively reduce postoperative low back pain and improve function following lumbar open discectomy, according to the data of a recently published placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Researchers conducted the prospective, randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial between July 2011 to January 2012 at a single institution. A total of 115 eligible patients were included in the trial.

Researchers gave 56 patients 1 mL of methylene blue (MB) solution at a concentration of 0.5% and 59 patients received an equivalent volume of saline. Researchers evaluated primary outcomes of low back pain (LBP) with or without radicular pain at 24 hours and 3 months postoperatively after lumbar open discectomy. Low back pain was evaluated using VAS scores. Researchers also assessed improvement in quality of life outcomes.

Investigators found a significant decrease from preoperative radicular pain scores in both groups 24 hours after surgery. However, researchers discovered the mean pain scores were significantly lower in the MB group compared with the control group.

“The mean VAS scores for LBP were significantly lower in the MB group compared with the control group at 24 hours (1.25 ± 0.97 vs. 2.80 ± 0.69, P < 0.001) and 3 months (1.02 ± 1.29 vs. 2.07 ± 1.10, P = 0.019) after the operation; the severity of LBP showed a significant decrease in both groups at the 3-month follow-up evaluation,” the researchers wrote in the study.

However, the MB group experienced a significantly greater reduction for this measure than the control group (8.11 ± 1.74 vs. 6.07 ± 1.52), according to the researchers. – by Robert Linnehan

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.