What is Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET)?
Intradiscal therapy is a minimally-invasive and revolutionary treatment for chronic low back pain. It’s also known as IDET spine therapy or Intradiscal electrothermal therapy. IDET is a safe and effective treatment for herniated discs, and other painful degenerative disc diseases (DDD).
A minimally invasive treatment, IDET therapy uses focalized heat to treat the injured intervertebral disc for chronic pain. With age or injury, cracks or fissures may develop in the wall of the intervertebral disc, causing disc problem. The outer layers are filled with small nerve endings and blood vessels. When a tear occurs, these fissures can be a source of debilitating chronic low back pain. The inner disc tissue will herniate into the tears in the outer region of the disc, causing pain within the disc.
In intradiscal electrothermal therapy, a physician applies precisely controlled heat to a broad section of the affected disc wall. Heat contracts and thickens the disc wall, resulting in contraction or closure of the disc wall tears, hence reducing the bulge of the inner disc material.
IDET for Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease and Herniated Disc
The heat element of IDET therapy may eliminate pain in one or a combination of ways:
- It modifies pain-sensitive nerve fibers of a spinal disc and destroys pain receptors in the area.
- It causes the collagen tissue within the disc wall to contract, sealing up the tiny tears that cause pain.
- It stimulates the production of new collagen.
- It destroys or changes the body’s inflammatory response to damage, reducing swelling and pain.
IDET procedure is a safe and effective alternative to major invasive treatment for disc herniation. It is less invasive, involves fewer risks, and can be performed right here in the clinic. The procedure takes about an hour, and patients can go home the same day.
Successful IDET procedure will allow for good or excellent pain management without having to undergo major spinal surgery for disc removal and spinal fusion, or disc replacement.
Patients who have had discogenic low back pain for more than 6 months and whose condition has not responded to conservative treatment are an ideal candidate for IDET procedure. Good and ideal candidates are patients with an identified affected disc(s) using MRI and discogram.
Patients with severe radicular symptoms due to a disc herniation or patients with severe spinal stenosis are NOT good candidates.
What Happens During an IDET Procedure?
The first step in the IDET procedure is an analysis called a discogram. A discogram is a test which tells the physician which disc is the one that is causing the problem. A CT scan is used to identify possible suspects.
Discogram is a mildly invasive diagnostic test that uses x-ray imaging to examine the intervertebral discs of your spine. An injection of special sterilized liquid is administered into the suspected disc or series of discs. This is called “pressurizing” this disc, and it is intended to induce disc pain. Discograms are used to locate precisely which discs are damaged and are causing back pain.
This can be uncomfortable, but it is essential to identify the damaged or herniated disc. Your physician can use a local anesthetic to help keep you comfortable during the procedure.
You will be identified as a good candidate for IDET procedure after a thorough examination of your current condition. Once the herniated disc is identified, the procedure will begin. You will lie face down, and be given a light sedative to help you relax. An injection of local anesthetic will be applied at the target site to further reduce any discomfort. Using X-ray, and fluoroscopy guidance, the physician will insert the catheter into the disc, and gradually heat the instrument to 90 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.
After the catheter is removed, the disc will receive an injection of anesthetic and antibiotics to prevent infection and ease you into your recovery.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet-rich plasma can be injected into the disc as an additional treatment option.
PRP is a highly-concentrated solution of platelets and growth factors taken from your own body. The solution stimulates your body’s natural regenerative powers, promoting the natural healing of damaged joints, lumbar discs, and soft tissues of the spine.
Percutaneous Disc Nucleoplasty
Percutaneous disc nucleoplasty uses a small needle and advanced radiofrequency technology to reduce a herniated disc.
This is another minimally-invasive, optional procedure for herniated disc treatment. It provides rapid pain relief and can be performed alongside IDET.
The recovery period for this procedure is a little longer than most minimally-invasive procedures. Typically, patients will be in a lower back brace for 6-8 weeks, and given pain medicine to help with the pain. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can reduce your recovery time.
When the back brace comes off, patients enter into physical therapy for about four weeks before they can return to their normal activities.
Call Nuvo Spine for a Herniated Disc Consultation
To learn more about IDET, and other treatments for herniated disc or degenerative disc disease, make an appointment with our care team at Nuvo Spine.
Our board-certified pain specialist will conduct a physical assessment and work with you to create a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs. We specialize in advanced, minimally-invasive procedures, designed to eliminate your pain, and keep you off the surgeon’s table.
Dr. Vahedifar's pain management strategies integrate cutting-edge medical technology with targeted interventions to minimize pain and treat pain’s underlying causes.
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