Is percutaneous adhesiolysis effective in managing chronic low back and lower extremity pain in post-surgery syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center


Purpose of review: The growing prevalence of spinal pain in the USA continues to produce substantial economic impact and strain on health-related quality of life. Percutaneous adhesiolysis is utilized for recalcitrant, resistant conditions involving spinal pain when epidural injections have failed to provide adequate improvement, especially low back and lower extremity pain, specifically in post-lumbar surgery syndrome. Despite multiple publications and systematic reviews, the debate continues in reference to effectiveness, safety, appropriate utilization, and medical necessity of percutaneous adhesiolysis in chronic pain. This systematic review, therefore, was undertaken to evaluate and to update effectiveness of percutaneous adhesiolysis to treat chronic refractory low back and lower extremity pain, post-surgical patients of the lumbar spine.

Recent findings: From 2009 to 2016, there was a decline of 53.2% utilization of percutaneous adhesiolysis with an annual decline of 10.3% per 100,000 fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare population. Multiple insurers, including Medicare, with Medicare area contractors of Noridian and Palmetto have issued noncoverage policies for percutaneous adhesiolysis resulting in these steep declines and continued noncoverage by Medicare Advantage plans, Managed Care plans of Medicaid, and other insurers. Since 2005, 4 systematic reviews of percutaneous adhesiolysis were published with 3 of them showing proper methodology and appropriate results with effectiveness of adhesiolysis, whereas one poorly performed systematic review showed negative results. In addition, there were only 4 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to be included in the previous systematic reviews of post-surgery syndrome, whereas now, the RCTs and other studies have increased. This systematic review shows level I or strong evidence for the effectiveness of percutaneous adhesiolysis in managing chronic low back and lower extremity pain related to post-lumbar surgery syndrome.

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