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Lumbar Disc Disease

August 2002

David G. Malone

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Michael T. Haneline

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Daniel K. Resnick, David G. Malone and Timothy C. Ryken


Discography has been used as a diagnostic test in the evaluation of patients with recalcitrant low-back pain. Recently, its usefulness has been questioned because of the occurrence of false-positive results as well as the influence of psychological factors on test results. The purpose of this review is to establish the literature support for and against the use of discography.

A search of the English-language literature published between 1966 and 2001 was performed. Papers were selected based on inclusion criteria described in the text, and the quality of information was graded using previously described methods.


The authors propose a set of practice parameters based on the literature. Although the data were not judged adequate for the determination of a treatment standard, parameters for the use of discography are provided at a guideline and option level.

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Michael D. Martin, Christopher M. Boxell and David G. Malone

Lumbar disc degeneration occurs because of a variety of factors and results in a multitude of conditions. Alterations in the vertebral endplate cause loss of disc nutrition and disc degeneration. Aging, apoptosis, abnormalities in collagen, vascular ingrowth, loads placed on the disc, and abnormal proteoglycan all contribute to disc degeneration. Some forms of disc degeneration lead to loss of height of the motion segment with concomitant changes in biomechanics of the segment. Disc herniation with radiculopathy and chronic discogenic pain are the result of this degenerative process.

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David G. Malone, Nevan G. Baldwin, Frank J. Tomecek, Christopher M. Boxell, Steven E. Gaede, Christopher G. Covington and Kenyon K. Kugler


The authors report a series of 22 patients in whom major complications developed after cervical spinal manipulation therapy (CSMT). A second objective was to estimate the regional incidence of these complications and to compare it with the very low incidences reported in the literature.


During a 5-year period, practioners at a single group neurosurgical practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, treated 22 patients, who were markedly worse during, or immediately after, CSMT. The details of these cases are reported. The 1995 US Government National Census was used to define the regional referral population for Tulsa. The published data regarding the incidence of serious CSMT-related complications and the rate of CSMTs undertaken nationally were used to estimate the expected number of CSMT-related complications in the authors' region. The number (22 cases) reported in this series was used to estimate the actual regional incidence.

Complications in the series included radiculopathy (21 cases), myelopathy (11 cases), Brown–Séquard syndrome (two cases), and vertebral artery (VA) occlusion (one case). Twenty-one patients underwent surgery. Poor outcomes were observed in three, outcome was unchanged in one, and 17 improved. The number of patients in this series exceeded the expected number for the region.


Cervical spinal manipulation therapy may worsen preexisting cervical disc herniation or cause disc herniation resulting in radiculopathy, myelopathy, or VA compression. In cases of cervical spondylosis, CSMT may also worsen preexisting myelopathy or radiculopathy. Manipulation of the cervical spine may also be associated with higher complication rates than previously reported.

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Oral Presentations

2010 AANS Annual Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1–5, 2010