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SpineCath Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy

What is SpineCATH IDET Therapy?

With age, or due to injury, cracks or fissures may cause fissures to develop in the wall of the intervertebral disc. Filled with small nerve endings and blood vessels, these fissures are a chronic source of pain in many patients. Additionally, the inner disc tissue (nucleus) will frequently cause the disc to bulge or herniate into these fissures in the outer region of the disc, likewise stimulating pain sensors within the disc. SpineCATH IDET therapy is a minimally invasive treatment in which the physician applies controlled levels of thermal energy (heat) to a broad section of the affected disc wall. This heat contracts and thickens the collagen of the disc wall, and raises the temperature of the nerve endings. Therapy may result in contraction or closure of the disc wall fissures, a reduction in the bulge of the inner disk material, and a desensitization of the pain sensors within the disc.

Who May Benefit from SpineCATH IDET Therapy?

SpineCATH IDET therapy acts exclusively upon the tissues of the disc itself, and should not be expected to relieve symptoms arising from other spinal structures, such as nerve roots or spinal joints. It is therefore very important for your physician to diagnose that the disc is the primary source of your back pain. In addition to a clinical examination, your physician may use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or injections of dye into the disc (discography) to confirm the diagnosis. Once satisfied that one or more discs are the primary source of your lower back pain, your physician may recommend SpineCATH IDET therapy.

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The Procedure

SpineCATH IDET therapy is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Local anesthesia and mild sedation may be used to reduce discomfort during the procedure. You will be awake and alert so that you can provide important feedback to the physician. With the guidance of x-ray images, your physician will advance a needle into the disc. The SpineCATH catheter will be passed through the needle and into the disc. Once it is in the appropriate position, the temperature of the heating section of the catheter will be gradually increased, raising the disc wall temperature. During the heating protocol, your physician will monitor your condition and comfort level closely. You will most probably feel a reproduction of your usual lower back pain. This is a indication that the heat is being applied to the appropriate areas. Once the therapy is completed, the catheter and needle are removed, and you will likely be sent home with a Band-Aid over the needle insertion site.

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After the Procedure

The discomfort generated when the disc is heated may take several days to subside, and your physician may prescribe medication. During the disc healing process, up to 12 to 16 weeks following the procedure, it is very important to treat your discs with care. Your physician will provide you with activity and physical rehabilitation guidelines. Studies have shown that it is during this time that most patients begin to experience relief from their lower back pain symptoms, a reduction or elimination of any medication use, and an increase in their functional abilities. Improvements may continue up to six months following the procedure.

Important Information About SpineCATH IDET Therapy

SpineCATH IDET therapy, like any surgical procedure, has some risks. Not all patients will find relief for their back pain and relieved symptoms may recur over time. Please consult your physician about the risks and potential complications of SpineCATH IDET therapy. Many additional factors may prevent your physician from recommending SpineCATH IDET therapy for your condition. Such factors may include, but are not limited to, very narrow disc height, severe disc herniation, spinal instability, very advanced stages of disc degeneration, or various general health concerns.

If SpineCATH IDET therapy is recommended for you, we advise you to openly discuss your treatment expectations with your physician, as he or she is best suited to ensure your expectations are reasonable given your personal condition.

oratec logo A new option for chronic low back pain sufferers, IntraDiscal ElectroThermal Therapy (IDET™).

Material Provided by Dr. Glenn M. Amundson
used by permission

Updated on: 02/01/10
"I think this is a treatment the patient should have knowledge about - but they should be cautioned that there are not any published results of this procedure over one year. The results have been mixed over the short period of time that this procedure has been performed with only about 50% achieving significant pain relief. Many insurance carriers will not pay for this procedure."
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