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What is Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy?

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Our pain management clinc specializes in a variety of options for the management of chronic pain. One of the options is Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET) is a minimally invasive procedure that involves threading a catheter into one of the vertebral discs that lie between the vertebrae in the spine. The catheter contains a thermal coil that heats the vertebral disc, which destroys the small spinal nerves for that disc. The most common use of IDET is the treatment of low back pain originating from the vertebral disc, known medically as discogenic low back pain.

Who is a candidate?

The best candidates for IDET have had discogenic low back pain for longer than six months that hasn't responded to convention treatments. The patient's primary complaint should be low back pain that originates from only one disc. Patients younger than 55 years will have better results due to faster healing.

What is the procedure?

The surgeon uses a local anesthetic to numb the skin, inserts a needle into the target intervertebral disc using a fluoroscope to guide the insertion. After the needle is properly positioned the surgeon inserts a catheter through the needle. The needle is rapidly heated from body temperature to 60 degrees Celsius, and then slowly heated to at least 80 degrees Celsius.

What can I expect afterwards?

The pain relief from IDET will be gradual and may even increase for the first week. Significant pain relief from this procedure often requires at least eight weeks and you will typically obtain the maximum relief from pain within four months. You will typically need to avoid heavy labor for the first four months after IDET.

What are the risks?

IDET has a low risk of side effects. A 2001 study of 35,000 IDET patients showed that six of these patients experienced nerve root injuries. Five of these cases completely resolved and the remaining case was still resolving at the conclusion of the study.