Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy
Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) is a minimally invasive procedure for treating lower-back pain caused by worn spinal discs. IDET uses a heating device on the affected disc; the heat that it generates destroys nerve fibers, toughens the disc's tissue, and repairs small tears. IDET is usually performed only after discography or other diagnostic testing indicates that a patient may benefit from it.
Candidates for Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy
Candidates for IDET are at least 18 years old. They have lower-back pain that originates in the discs, and is exacerbated by sitting. IDET is an appropriate treatment when back pain has persisted for several months, and remains unresponsive after 6 or more weeks of nonsurgical treatments.
The Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy Procedure
IDET is performed using a combination of sedation and local anesthesia. To prevent infection, antibiotics are administered, either intravenously or through injection, during the procedure. Fluoroscopy is used to enhance visualization as a catheter and heating device are inserted into the disc. The heating device, which reaches roughly 149 degrees Fahrenheit, is placed around the external coating of the disc to break down the nerve fibers, strengthen disc tissue and seal small tears.
Recovery from Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy
For the first few days after IDET, pain may increase, but then subside. To ensure optimal back function, physical therapy is necessary for a month or two following the procedure. For the first few months after IDET, patients must refrain from bending, sitting for extended periods, or lifting heavy objects. Patients are usually advised to wait at least 6 months before resuming strenuous activities.
Risks of Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy
Although IDET relatively safe, its risks include adverse reaction to anesthetic or medication; nerve damage; disc infection; and disc damage.