Editor-in-Chief: Alaa Abd-Elsayed, MD, PhD

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  1. 2024;8;143-146 Vacuum Disc Phenomenon Turned Gassy Disc Herniation: A Case Report
    Case Report
    Esther Benedetti de Marrero, MD, Tho Chi Le, MD, Bradley Jones, MD, Andres Missair, MD, Edmond Benedetti, MD, and Alejandra Mayorga, MD.

BACKGROUND: The vacuum phenomenon is a radiologic finding that results from gas accumulation within degenerated discs, joints, or vertebrae. This gas can herniate, causing back pain and/or radiculopathy. Asymptomatic imaging abnormalities can be coincidental and/or non-concordant with clinical presentation therefore warranting close evaluation.

CASE REPORT: This 45-year-old man, previously diagnosed with lumbar facet arthropathy, returned to the clinic for left-sided axial low back pain. Imaging revealed that a gas filled mass in the right lateral recess was affecting the traversing right L5 and S1 nerve roots. Given the exclusive axial symptoms consistent with lumbar zygapophyseal joint arthropathy, the patient was treated with a repeat L3-4 medial branch and L5 dorsal ramus radiofrequency ablation and experienced subsequent near-complete pain resolution.

CONCLUSIONS: Careful consideration must be taken when conducting clinical evaluation, imaging, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with low back pain given the significant frequency of abnormal, often nonconcordant, radiological findings.

KEY WORDS: Pneumorrhachis, vacuum disc phenomenon, low back pain, case report