Lumbar intradiscal electrothermal therapy is a minimally invasive treatment option for patients suffering from chronic low back pain, specifically degenerative disc disease or herniated discs. This innovative therapy is often considered an alternative to spinal surgery because it uses electrothermal energy to reduce pain. Many patients have experienced optimal pain relief from lumbar intradiscal electrothermal therapy for a significant period of time (several weeks or months) without having to undergo extensive spinal surgery, such as a disc replacement or disc removal and spinal fusion. Lumbar intradiscal electrothermal therapy is usually performed on an outpatient basis with several spinal discs treated at one time. Patients with minor or moderate damage to their spinal discs generally experience better results than those with severe damage. If the patient does not experience adequate pain relief from lumbar intradiscal electrothermal therapy, he or she may want to consider spinal surgery for longer lasting results.
As mentioned previously, lumbar intradiscal electrothermal therapy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that treats chronic back pain using electrothermal energy. During the procedure, the patient lies face down while an Orthopedic and Wellness physician administers a sedative intravenously. This medicine will help relax the patient throughout the procedure. Shortly thereafter, the skin above the surgical site is numbed with a local anesthetic. Then, the physician uses an x-ray device called a fluoroscope to insert and guide a hollow needle into the lower back. Once the needle is inserted into a damaged spinal disc, the physician introduces an electrothermal catheter through the needle and into the disc. This unique device is heated slowly to warm the disc wall, eventually destroying nerve fibers surrounding the damaged spinal disc. If there are multiple damaged discs causing pain, the physician will repeat this process to ensure all affected spinal discs have been treated. When the procedure is complete, the physician will remove the needles and bandage the skin. The patient is then sent to a separate room to recover.
After the procedure, the patient’s blood pressure, oxygen levels, and pain levels are monitored to rule out any serious complications. Patients may experience increased pain immediately after the procedure with gradual pain relief occurring over the course of several days. After a few months, patients should experience partial or complete pain relief. An Orthopedic and Wellness physician may recommend physical therapy after lumbar intradiscal electrothermal therapy to encourage healing. Patients should report any signs of an infection, fever, increased pain, swelling, and redness to their Orthopedic and Wellness nurse or physician. After care instructions will be provided to patients following lumbar intradiscal electrothermal therapy.