Thermal Annuloplasty Using Percutaneous Endoscopic Discectomy for Elite Athletes with Discogenic Low Back Pain.

The purpose of this study was to assess the usefulness of radiofrequency thermal annuloplasty (TA) using percutaneous endoscopic discectomy/TA (PED/TA) in elite athletes with discogenic low back pain. Twelve patients (11 men, 1 woman; mean age 27.9 years) underwent PED/TA under local anesthesia. Clinical data for these patients (17 affected intervertebral discs), including type of sport played, average duration of low back pain, disc level affected, presence or absence of a high signal intensity zone on magnetic resonance imaging, and whether the patient returned to playing competitive sport, were retrospectively reviewed. The most common sport played by the patient was baseball (n = 8), followed by cycling (n = 2), tennis (n = 1), and hammer throw (n = 1). The average duration of low back pain was 24.3 months. The intervertebral disc levels affected were L4/5 (n = 11) and L5/S1 (n = 6). A high signal intensity zone was detected in nine discs. Although two patients required additional surgery, all patients were able to return to their original competitive level of play. Duration for the return to play was 2.8 months after surgery except the two revision cases. PED/TA for discogenic pain enables an early return to competitive sports, and so is particularly useful for elite athletes.

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