Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy Provides Effective Relief With Chronic Discogenic Low Back Pain

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy or IDET is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure which is used to treat patients with chronic low back pain that is caused by tears or small herniation of the lumbar discs. During intradiscal electrothermal therapy, heat is use to modify the nerve fibers of a spinal disc and destroy pain receptors in the area.

Why IDET is done?

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy is used to treat a select subgroup of people who have had chronic disc-related low back pain usually for at least 3 to 6 months despite their nonsurgical treatment. Intradiscal electrothermal therapy is not recommended for people who have severe disc degeneration, spinal stenosis, or spinal instability such as spondylolisthesis.

What to think about intradiscal electrothermal therapy?

If you’re considering intradiscal electrothermal therapy then be sure that it suits on your current medical condition. You may be a candidate for intradiscal electrothermal therapy if:

  • You are suffering from disc-related pain for at least 6 months.
  • Your symptoms have not improved with at least 6 weeks of nonsurgical treatment which includes pain medicine and physical therapy or a home exercise program for your low back pain.
  • Pain is mostly in the low back and not in the leg.
  • Pain becomes worst when you are sitting.
  • Discography shows damage inside the disc. The damage is at the back of the outer layer (annulus) of the degenerated spinal dis.

IDET procedure

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy is generally performed in a local surgery center, where doctors will able to offer IV sedation and monitoring by a nurse. You will lie on your stomach for procedure to be started on a cushioned table.

  • The physician will then numb a small area of your skin using a local anesthetic, which will sting for several seconds.
  • A cannula or hollow needle is placed into the lumbar disc under x-ray-guidance which is fluoroscopy.
  • An electrothermal catheter or heating wire is then passed through the needle and positioned in the disc where it is heated causing cauterization and cauterization of the disc material.
  • This will contract the fibers making up the disc wall, closing any tears and burning the tiny nerve endings in the disc making them less sensitive to pain.
  • The catheter is finally removed along with the needle and, after a short period of observation, the patient goes home.


Complications of intradiscal electrothermal therapy are rare but there are some which are;

  • Nerve damage
  • Disc damage
  • Disc infection

Zaki Anwar MD is an Anesthesiologist and Interventional Pain Management Specialist. He has great expertise for the diagnosis and treatment of back pain, headaches, migraines, neck pain, sciatica pain and various pain conditions. His center has offering various treatment options including stem cell therapy, amniotic fluid injection and much more.

For further queries call on 815.412.6166