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What is intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET)?

Chronic back pain can be hard to live with. You may have pain that is difficult to manage, even if you’ve been diligent about making lifestyle changes, attending therapy appointments and trying various treatments that your doctor recommends. If your pain is chronic and difficult to treat, your doctor may consider a spinal treatment called intradiscal electrothermal therapy, or IDET. The goal of this treatment is to alleviate your chronic back pain by destroying the nerve that’s causing it.

What to expect

Your doctor will insert a needle containing a heating element into the spinal disc. A catheter is placed in the outer layer of the disc and is then slowly heated. The heat destroys the nerve fibers and causes the disc tissue to seal any small tears. The procedure involves the use of a sedative and local anesthetic, as well as the use of X-ray imaging using fluoroscopy—a special technique that allows your doctor to see your spine as the surgery is underway.

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