Microdiscectomy compared with transforaminal epidural steroid injection for persistent radicular pain caused by prolapsed intervertebral disc: the NERVES RCT.



Wilby, Martin J, Best, Ashley ORCID: 0000-0002-7268-8735, Wood, Eifiona, Burnside, Girvan ORCID: 0000-0001-7398-1346, Bedson, Emma, Short, Hannah, Wheatley, Dianne, Hill-McManus, Daniel, Sharma, Manohar, Clark, Simon
et al (show 9 more authors) (2021) Microdiscectomy compared with transforaminal epidural steroid injection for persistent radicular pain caused by prolapsed intervertebral disc: the NERVES RCT. Health Technology Assessment, 25 (24). 1 - 86.

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Abstract

Background Sciatica is a common condition reported to affect > 3% of the UK population at any time and is most often caused by a prolapsed intervertebral disc. Currently, there is no uniformly adopted treatment strategy. Invasive treatments, such as surgery (i.e. microdiscectomy) and transforaminal epidural steroid injection, are often reserved for failed conservative treatment. Objective To compare the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of microdiscectomy with transforaminal epidural steroid injection for the management of radicular pain secondary to lumbar prolapsed intervertebral disc for non-emergency presentation of sciatica of < 12 months’ duration. Interventions Patients were randomised to either (1) microdiscectomy or (2) transforaminal epidural steroid injection. Design A pragmatic, multicentre, randomised prospective trial comparing microdiscectomy with transforaminal epidural steroid injection for sciatica due to prolapsed intervertebral disc with < 1 year symptom duration. Setting NHS services providing secondary spinal surgical care within the UK. Participants A total of 163 participants (aged 16–65 years) were recruited from 11 UK NHS outpatient clinics. Main outcome measures The primary outcome was participant-completed Oswestry Disability Questionnaire score at 18 weeks post randomisation. Secondary outcomes were visual analogue scores for leg pain and back pain; modified Roland–Morris score (for sciatica), Core Outcome Measures Index score and participant satisfaction at 12-weekly intervals. Cost-effectiveness and quality of life were assessed using the EuroQol-5 Dimensions, five-level version; Hospital Episode Statistics data; medication usage; and self-reported cost data at 12-weekly intervals. Adverse event data were collected. The economic outcome was incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year gained from the perspective of the NHS in England. Results Eighty-three participants were allocated to transforaminal epidural steroid injection and 80 participants were allocated to microdiscectomy, using an online randomisation system. At week 18, Oswestry Disability Questionnaire scores had decreased, relative to baseline, by 26.7 points in the microdiscectomy group and by 24.5 points in the transforaminal epidural steroid injection. The difference between the treatments was not statistically significant (estimated treatment effect –4.25 points, 95% confidence interval –11.09 to 2.59 points). Nor were there significant differences between treatments in any of the secondary outcomes: Oswestry Disability Questionnaire scores, visual analogue scores for leg pain and back pain, modified Roland–Morris score and Core Outcome Measures Index score up to 54 weeks. There were four (3.8%) serious adverse events in the microdiscectomy group, including one nerve palsy (foot drop), and none in the transforaminal epidural steroid injection group. Compared with transforaminal epidural steroid injection, microdiscectomy had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of £38,737 per quality-adjusted life-year gained and a probability of 0.17 of being cost-effective at a willingness to pay threshold of £20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year. Limitations Primary outcome data was invalid or incomplete for 24% of participants. Sensitivity analyses demonstrated robustness to assumptions made regarding missing data. Eighteen per cent of participants in the transforaminal epidural steroid injection group subsequently received microdiscectomy prior to their primary outcome assessment. Conclusions To the best of our knowledge, the NErve Root Block VErsus Surgery trial is the first trial to evaluate the comparative clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of microdiscectomy and transforaminal epidural steroid injection. No statistically significant difference was found between the two treatments for the primary outcome. It is unlikely that microdiscectomy is cost-effective compared with transforaminal epidural steroid injection at a threshold of £20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year for sciatica secondary to prolapsed intervertebral disc.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Clinical Directorate
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2021 13:46
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2021 14:10
DOI: 10.3310/hta25240
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3120613