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General Spine News

IDET: Is it a Good IDEA?

IDET is a fairly new treatment for chronic disc-related low back pain. IDET stands for intradiscal electrothermal therapy. It's a form of heat treatment to the disc to decrease pain and increase stability. How useful is this treatment?

Research shows mixed results with success in about 60 to 70 percent of patients. The purpose of this study was to follow patients for one year and report pain and function levels. Spine specialists from all over Los Angeles sent patients to one surgery center for IDET. Forty-four patients were part of this study.

A year after the operation, patients were contacted by phone. They were asked about pain, function, work status, and medicine use. They were also questioned about any further treatment for their back pain. Patients also filled out a survey with more questions about exercise, smoking habits, and alcohol use.

The results of this study show about one-third of the patients were happy with the results of IDET. Slightly more than half would do it again. But nearly everyone reported they still had pain a year after IDET. Six patients (about 14 percent) ended up having back fusion a year later.

The authors conclude that IDET looks promising, but it's not good enough yet. More long-term studies are needed to show if IDET really works. There's still some concern about disc breakdown over time. Patients could end up with worse pain or other problems much later.

Timothy T. Davis, MD, et al. The IDET Procedure for Chronic Discogenic Low Back Pain. In Spine. April 1, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 7. Pp. 752-756.

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