Spines Hold Steady after Intradiscal Electrothermal TherapyNew advances in medicine and science are making it possible to narrow down and locate pain-causing tissues in people with chronic low back pain. Frequently, the lumbar disc is the source of pain. Scientists have also discovered that the outer ring of the disc is rich in pain sensors.Â Â
Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) is a newer surgical procedure that lets doctors work on the painful disc without causing harm to the other tissues in the area. During the procedure, a special heating element called a catheter is placed inside the sore disc using a special needle. The element is heated for about 17 minutes. The heat treatment is believed to shrink the disc fibers and cauterize pain sensors.
Does it work?Â Resources say that more than 75% of the people treated with IDET are highly satisfied. But does the procedure weaken the spine? This is the question the authors sought to answer in this study.
Researchers tested how well four human cadaver spines could withstand movements before and after IDET treatment. They set up a testing device that put pressure on to the spine similar to the forces caused by routine activities. Then the spines were tested for three types of movement: bending forward and back, bending side to side, and turning in each direction.Â
The spines held steady. In fact, IDET didn't change the spines' ability to withstand pressures and movements common with daily activities.
The authors acknowledge that their study has limitations. They tested few cadavers, had a short time between IDET and retesting the spines, and tested only the middle and upper joints of the lumbar spine. The authors stressed that future studies will need to look at the effect of IDET on the tissues inside the disc. Nevertheless, their research suggest that IDET doesn't appear to weaken spinal segments of the lumbar spine.
Joe Lee, MD, et al. Stability of the Lumbar Spine After Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy. In Archives of Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation. January 2001. Vol. 82. No. 1. Pp. 120-122.
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