Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy Benefits Low Back Pain

May 03, 2002

NEW YORK (MedscapeWire) May 06 — Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) may be an effective alternative to spinal fusion or pain management for patients with chronic low back pain, according to results of a prospective longitudinal study reported in the May 1 issue of Spine.

"A cohort of patients with chronic discogenic low-back pain who had failed to improve with comprehensive nonoperative care demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in pain, physical function, and quality of life at 2 years after IDET," write Jeffrey A. Saal, MD, and Joel S. Saal, MD, from SOAR, Physiatry Medical Group in Menlo Park, California.

Of 1116 patients seen for chronic low back pain lasting more than 6 months, 62 failed nonoperative therapy and elected to have IDET rather than spinal fusion or chronic pain management. Of these, 58 patients were followed for at least 2 years.

Based on symptom scores, patients treated with IDET had significant improvement in pain, physical function, quality of life, and sitting tolerance times. Bodily pain and physical function scores improved significantly between 1- and 2-year follow-up evaluations. There were no complications or adverse events.

"IDET may represent a minimally invasive option for a select group of patients with chronic discogenic [refractory] low back pain...who desire functional improvement but would prefer to avoid fusion surgery or long-term opioids," the authors write.


Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD


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