OBJECTIVE: To determine whether infrared skin thermography is an objective measurement reflecting the seriousness of nerve root irritation in lumbar disk herniation patients.
DESIGN: Quantified nerve root signs by physical examination were collected from the patients along with the infrared skin temperature measurement on the lumbosacral region and posterior part of thighs. A correlation study was applied to observe the relation between the nerve root signs and the skin temperature before a successful conservative treatment (mainly spine manipulation), and between the alteration of nerve root signs and that of skin temperature after the treatment.
SETTING: Hospitalized care.
PATIENTS: Twenty-seven hospitalized samples with computed tomography or magnetic resonance approval were consecutively selected during the latter half of 1990.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Changes in nerve root signs.
RESULTS: The temperature difference between a troubled thigh and healthy one is significantly correlated to the score of the nerve root signs before the treatment; and the reduction of temperature difference between two thighs is also significantly correlated with decreasing score of nerve root signs after the treatment. The correlation between the temperature difference on the left and right sides of the lumbosacral region and the nerve root signs before the treatment is insignificant; and the variation of the temperature difference of the same region after the treatment is not correlated with the decreasing score of the nerve root signs.
CONCLUSION: Infrared skin thermography of lower extremities might be an objective sign in signaling the soothing process of the nerve root irritation in lumbar disk herniation patients, which may help a doctor in checking the responses of the patient to treatment.
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