Epidural adhesiolysis: An evidence-based review

D. E. Jamison, E. Hsu, S. P. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


First described over 25 years ago, epidural lysis of adhesions (LOA) involves the mechanical dissolution of epidural scar tissue, which may directly alleviate pain and facilitate the spread of analgesic substances to area(s) of pain generation. Although it most commonly performed for lumbar failed back surgery syndrome, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests it may be effective for spinal stenosis and radicular pain stemming from a herniated disc. There is weak positive evidence that LOA is more effective than conventional caudal epidural steroid injections for failed back surgery syndrome and spinal stenosis, and that LOA is more effective than sham adhesiolysis and conservative management for lumbosacral radiculopathy. For cervical disc herniation and spinal stenosis, there is only anecdotal evidence suggesting effectiveness and safety. Factors that may contribute to the enhanced efficacy compared to traditional epidural steroid administration include the high volume administered, the use of hypertonic saline, and to a lesser extent the use of hyaluronidase and a navigable catheter to mechanically disrupt scar tissue and guide medication administration. Although LOA is widely considered a safe intervention, the complication rates are higher than for conventional epidural steroid injection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Cicatrix
  • Hyaluronoglucosaminidase
  • Tissue adhesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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