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Indian Study Reveals New Approach To Treating Low Back Pain

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A molecular imaging scan combined with a conventional bone scan can offer insights into spine health and help determine the best pain relief strategy for people with low back pain. This was revealed during the annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

Traditional methods like X-ray, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are great for observing bone structure. However, the cause of back pain is not always directly associated with structural changes that are obvious. Scientists from the Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Medial Sciences in Lucknow in India used a hybrid molecular imaging technique called single photon emission computed tomography in combination with computed tomography (SPECT/CT). The new method makes it possible to see beyond bone structure and identify physiological processes like inflammation or infection, which can be the cause of the pain.

Lower back pain is experienced by almost everyone at some point, according to study co-author Suruchi Jain. The new SPECT/CT technique coupled with conventional bone scans might prevent unnecessary treatments and guide doctors to the most appropriate approach by providing critical information, Jain added.

The Indian experiment included 80 individuals aged between 20 and 80. One group was subjected to bone scans and SPECT/CT, while the other underwent no scans before their treatment. After the interventions,the participants were asked to rank the level of pain relief they felt. Patients reporting at least 50% pain relief were far more likely to be part of the scanned group. The number of patients that reported pain relief of between 70% and 100% was 28 in the group that underwent the new scan technique and 10 in the control group.

The combination of bone scans and SPECT/CT used for back pain patients could lead to more widespread use of this nuclear medicine procedure and improve the outcome of interventions, Jain concluded.