Korean J Radiol.  2021 Feb;22(2):225-232. 10.3348/kjr.2020.0194.

Transiting Nerve Rootlet Abnormalities on MRI after Lumbar Laminectomy: Associations with Persistent Postoperative Pain

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Radiology, Research Institute for Convergence of Biomedical Science and Technology, Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital, Yangsan, Korea.
  • 2Department of Radiology, Pusan National University Hospital, Pusan National University School of Medicine, Busan, Korea.
  • 3Department of Neurosurgery, Pusan National University Hospital, Pusan National University School of Medicine, Busan, Korea.

Abstract


Objective
To determine whether changes in the transiting nerve rootlet or its surroundings, as seen on MRI performed after lumbar hemilaminectomy, are associated with persistent postoperative pain (PPP), commonly known as the failed back surgery syndrome.
Materials and Methods
Seventy-three patients (mean age, 61 years; 43 males and 30 females) who underwent single-level partial hemilaminectomy of the lumbar spine without postoperative complications or other level spinal abnormalities between January 2010 and December 2018 were enrolled. Two musculoskeletal radiologists evaluated transiting nerve rootlet abnormalities (thickening, signal alteration, distinction, and displacement), epidural fibrosis, and intrathecal arachnoiditis on MRI obtained one year after the operations. A spine surgeon blinded to the radiologic findings evaluated each patient for PPP. Univariable and multivariable analyses were used to evaluate the association between the MRI findings and PPP.
Results
The presence of transiting nerve rootlet thickening, signal alteration, and ill-distinction was significantly different between the patients with PPP and those without, for both readers (p ≤ 0.020). Conversely, the presence of transiting nerve rootlet displacement, epidural fibrosis, and intrathecal arachnoiditis was not significantly different between the two groups (p ≥ 0.128). Among the above radiologic findings, transiting nerve rootlet thickening and signal alteration were the most significant findings in the multivariable analyses (p ≤ 0.009).
Conclusion
On MRI, PPP was associated with transiting nerve rootlet abnormalities, including thickening, signal alterations, and ill-distinction, but was not associated with epidural fibrosis or intrathecal arachnoiditis. The most relevant findings were the nerve rootlet thickening and signal alteration.

Keyword

Persistent postoperative pain; Failed back surgery; Laminectomy; Spinal nerve roots; Epidural fibrosis
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