Jérôme Rigaud, Thibault Riant, Jean-Jacques Labat, Michel Guerineau, Roger Robert

April 2013, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 775 - 781 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-012-2507-5

First Online: 29 September 2012


The objective of this prospective innovative treatment is to section the pain pathways carried by sympathetic lumbar rami communicantes to achieve lasting pain relief of refractory low back pain.


From December 2005 to September 2008, nine patients were operated by bilateral section of rami communicantes for a refractory low back pain. As a diagnostic and predictive test, all patients had, before surgery, a local anaesthetic infiltration of the sympathetic trunk at L2 performed with computed tomography guidance. Surgery is indicated if the tests lead to a reduction in pain of at least 50 %. The procedure, using a retroperitoneal laparoscopic approach, consisted to identify the sympathetic trunk and to section all lumbar rami communicantes from L1 to L2.


No intraoperative complications were observed. The mean postoperative follow-up was 29 ± 15 months. At the last follow-up, only 22 % (2/9) patients had an improvement of their low back pain with this surgery but with a minimal effect (30 and 50 % reduction of pain). An improvement of quality of life was observed in 33 % (3/9) of cases. Due to persistent pain, four patients had a spinal cord stimulation after this surgery.


Section the pain pathways carried by sympathetic lumbar rami communicantes for refractory low back pain improved 22 % of patients at the last follow-up of 29 months.

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