by Alan Jordan
The acronym MAST stands for Modic Antibiotic Spine Therapy and this self-explanatory phrase means exactly what it states. Two recently published studies in the European Spine Journal indentifying the bacteria found in patients who demonstrate Modic changes in their vertebrae as well as the highly successful treatment of these patients with antibiotics have received considerable media coverage due to the fact that conventional treatments for individuals suffering from chronic disabling lower back pain including exercise, injections, manipulation and so forth offer only short term relief – at best. These two recent publications are the culmination of over a decade of work and emanate from the same department that has published more than 25 studies on this topic.
MAST Medical Academy
The MAST Medical Academy was formed by the leading researchers from the University of Southern Denmark and two spine specialists from the United Kingdom. It is led by Dr Hanne Albert PhD, and includes Professor Claus Manniche, Dr Joan Soerensen, Mr Peter Hamlyn, Consultant Spinal Surgeon and Dr Alan Jordan PhD, Chiropractor.
Goals and Responsibilities of the Academy
The goals and responsibilities relate to both the general public as well as the medical community.
We wish to provide the general public with high quality information regarding this “new disease” in an ethical and responsible manner. Information can be found on the official MAST website www.mastmedical.com. Furthermore, we wish to provide individuals with the contact details of clinicians – both in the public and independent healthcare spheres – who have successfully undergone an extensive teaching programme and examination such that patients can be certain that the clinician that they are consulting is properly qualified to diagnose and manage antibiotic therapy – if deemed appropriate.
Both the course and examination are available on the website via an e-learning programme such that as many clinicians who wish to learn more about Modic changes and treatment possibilities may do so – from their homes or offices. The course includes 9 lectures followed by an examination. Successful candidates are then placed on the Certified Clinician Map. Live courses are also planned.
Studies have shown that it take a long time – far too long – to initiate change in the manner in which medicine is practised. A glaring example is that of helicobactor pylori, the bug found to be responsible for causing stomach ulcers. Historically, this often resulted in surgical intervention. Sadly, surgeries – as opposed to a simple course of antibiotic treatment – were still being carried out 10 years after the initial scientific paper was discovered! We very much wish to avoid a similar situation with patients who are experiencing debilitating back pain and Modic changes who may well do extremely well with an inexpensive and non-invasive treatment.
MAST certified clinicians are provided with the same outcome measures used to monitor improvement in patients undergoing antibiotic treatment so that the MAST Medical Academy can accumulate high quality audit data which will further our understanding of treatment results, side effects and so forth. A facility will shortly be available on the official MAST website which will enable clinicians to place their audit data directly on the website.
Lastly, members of the Academy are actively working with other research groups in order to move forward in what is certainly a paradigm shift in the treatment of this sub group of chronic back pain patients.