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Protocol of the randomised placebo controlled pilot trial of the management of acute sciatica (SCIATICA): a feasibility study

06 Jul 2018

Introduction

Acute sciatica (symptom duration less than 4 weeks), a major cause of pain and disability, is a common presentation to medical practices and hospital emergency departments. Selective CT fluoroscopy transforaminal epidural steroid injection is often used with the hope of reducing pain and improving function. Recently, there has been interest in using systemic corticosteroids in acute sciatica. However, there is limited evidence to inform management of selective CT fluoroscopy transforaminal epidural steroid in subacute and chronic sciatica and there is no evidence in acute sciatica, even though the practice is widespread. There is also limited evidence for the use of systemic corticosteroids in acute sciatica. Furthermore, the management of selective CT fluoroscopy transforaminal epidural steroid versus systemic steroids has never been directly studied.

Methods and analysis

SCIATICA is a pilot/feasibility study of patients with acute sciatica designed to evaluate the feasibility of undertaking a blinded four-arm randomised controlled intervention study of (1) selective CT fluoroscopy transforaminal epidural steroid (arm 1), (2) selective CT fluoroscopy transforaminal epidural saline (arm 2), (3) 15 days tapering dose of oral steroids (arm 3) and (4) a sham epidural and oral placebo control (arm 4). This feasibility study is designed to evaluate head-to-head, route versus pharmacology of interventions. The primary outcome measure is the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) at 3 weeks. Secondary outcome is the ODI at 48 weeks. Other outcomes include numerical rating scale for leg pain, Pain DETECT Questionnaire, quality of life, medication use, rescue procedures or surgery, and adverse events. Results of outcomes from this randomised controlled trial will be used to determine the feasibility, sample size and power calculations for a large multicentre study.

Ethics and dissemination

The study has been approved by South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC/15/331/POHW/586).

Trial registration number

NCT03240783; Pre-results.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open