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Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET)

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) is a minimally invasive treatment for chronic low back pain caused by a spinal disc problem. Using "live" X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy), a doctor inserts a hollow needle containing a flexible tube (catheter) and heating element into the spinal disc. The catheter is positioned in a circle in the outer layer (annulus) of the disc and is then slowly heated. The heat is meant to destroy the nerve fibers and toughen the disc tissue, sealing any small tears.

Before an IDET procedure, you are given a sedative and a local anesthetic.

Antibiotics, either given in a vein (intravenous) or injected into the disc, are used to prevent a disc infection.

Possible risks include nerve damage, disc damage, and disc infection.

There is no proof that this treatment works, and most experts do not recommend it. If you are considering IDET, be sure that you are a good candidate for the procedure and that the doctor doing the procedure is well trained and experienced. If you are unsure about whether IDET is right for you, consider getting a second opinion.

Last Revised: May 9, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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