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Pain. 2010 Apr;149(1):124-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.01.021. Epub 2010 Feb 18.

A randomized placebo-controlled trial of intradiscal methylene blue injection for the treatment of chronic discogenic low back pain.

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  • 1Department of Spinal Surgery, General Hospital of Armed Police Force, Beijing 100039, China. pengbaogan@163.com


A preliminary report of clinical study revealed that chronic discogenic low back pain could be treated by intradiscal methylene blue (MB) injection. We investigated the effect of intradiscal MB injection for the treatment of chronic discogenic low back pain in a randomized placebo-controlled trial. We recruited 136 patients who were found potentially eligible after clinical examination and 72 became eligible after discography. All the patients had discogenic low back pain lasting longer than 6 months, with no comorbidity. Thirty-six were allocated to intradiscal MB injection and 36 to placebo treatment. The principal criteria to judge the effectiveness included alleviation of pain, assessed by a 101-point numerical rating scale (NRS-101), and improvement in disability, as assessed with the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) for functional recovery. At the 24-month follow-up, both the groups differed substantially with respect to the primary outcomes. The patients in MB injection group showed a mean reduction in pain measured by NRS of 52.50, a mean reduction in Oswestry disability scores of 35.58, and satisfaction rates of 91.6%, compared with 0.70%, 1.68%, and 14.3%, respectively, in placebo treatment group (p<0.001, p<0.001, and p<0.001, respectively). No adverse effects or complications were found in the group of patients treated with intradiscal MB injection. The current clinical trial indicates that the injection of methylene blue into the painful disc is a safe, effective and minimally invasive method for the treatment of intractable and incapacitating discogenic low back pain.

Copyright 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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