Intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty, or IDET, is a procedure that can help alleviate discogenic pain – or pain that originates directly from an intervertebral disc.
The IDET technique – which is also called intervertebral disc annuloplasty or intradiscal electrothermic therapy – provides an alternative treatment to patients suffering from pain related to the spine’s intervertebral discs. Each intervertebral disc has a soft center – called the nucleus pulposus – that’s surrounded by a tough but flexible outer layer known as the annulus fibrosus. When healthy, these discs allow for complex motions, and act as shock absorbers for the multitude of pressures placed daily on our back and neck. As we age, however, our discs can become weak and susceptible to tearing. A tear in the disc can cause fluids from inside the disc to leak out and irritate the nerves in the outer layer, sometimes causing pain.
During an intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty, a surgeon inserts a probe (electrothermal catheter) into the patient’s affected disc. Once inside, the probe is slowly heated to 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit). The heat shrinks and thickens the disc wall’s collagen fibers to assist in the closing of the tear. Nerve endings within the disc are then cauterized to help block pain signals. The procedure lasts about one hour, and after a short observation period, the patient is able to go home. Studies have shown that IDET can relieve pain and improve mobility with a 50-60% success rate, but the healing process takes time. The patient may have increased pain for a few days following the procedure, and physical therapy is always part of the recovery process. Relief of discogenic pain typically takes at least six weeks following IDET, and strenuous activities should be avoided for 5-6 months.
It is important to note that weakened discs also may lead to a bulging disc or ruptured disc, and intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty is not used to treat these more serious issues. Likewise, severe disc deterioration or degenerative disc disease requires more extensive treatment than IDET can provide.
If you’re experiencing back or neck pain and your symptoms aren’t responding to conservative treatments as prescribed by your physician, you may need more progressive procedures to return to a pain-free lifestyle. Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive treatments on an outpatient basis, with 87% of our patients reporting symptom relief within three months. Offering a quicker recuperation time and far fewer side effects than other procedures like open-back surgery, LSI’s progressive approach will have you back in the swing of things in no time. Contact us today for free MRI or CT scan review, and to learn more information about our facilities.