Intradiscal Electrothermal Annuloplasty (IDET)
Intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty, or IDET, is a
procedure that can help alleviate discogenic pain – or pain
that originates directly from an intervertebral disc.
The IDET technique – which is also called intervertebral
disc annuloplasty or intradiscal electrothermic therapy –
provides an alternative treatment to patients suffering from
pain related to the spine’s intervertebral discs. Each
intervertebral disc has a soft center – called the nucleus
pulposus – that’s surrounded by a tough but flexible outer
layer known as the annulus fibrosus. When healthy, these
discs allow for complex motions, and act as shock absorbers
for the multitude of pressures placed daily on our back and
As we age, however, our discs can become weak and
susceptible to tearing. A tear in the disc can cause fluids
from inside the disc to leak out and irritate the nerves in
the outer layer, sometimes causing pain.
During an intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty, a
surgeon inserts a probe (electrothermal catheter) into the
patient’s affected disc. Once inside, the probe is slowly
heated to 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit). The
heat shrinks and thickens the disc wall’s collagen fibers to
assist in the closing of the tear. Nerve endings within the
disc are then cauterized to help block pain signals. The
procedure lasts about one hour, and after a short
observation period, the patient is able to go home. Studies
have shown that IDET can relieve pain and improve mobility
with a 50-60% success rate, but the healing process takes
You may have increased pain for a few days following the
procedure, and physical therapy is always part of the
recovery process. Relief of discogenic pain typically takes
at least six weeks following IDET, and strenuous activities
should be avoided for 5-6 months.
It is important to note that weakened discs also may lead
to a bulging disc or ruptured disc, and intradiscal
electrothermal annuloplasty is not used to treat these more
serious issues. Likewise, severe disc deterioration or
degenerative disc disease requires more extensive treatment
than IDET can provide.
If you’re experiencing back or neck pain and your
symptoms aren’t responding to conservative treatments as
prescribed by your doctor, you may need more progressive
procedures to return to a pain-free lifestyle. We perform
minimally invasive treatments on an outpatient basis, with
87% of our patients reporting symptom relief within three
months. Offering a quicker recuperation time and far fewer
side effects than other procedures like open-back surgery,
our progressive approach will have you back in the swing of
things in no time.
When IDET is an
Back pain for at
least 3 months
No prior spine
surgery at the affected level
Abnormal disc seen
How IDET is
IDET is performed as an outpatient procedure. The entire
procedure uses only local anesthesia and some mild sedation.
Using x-ray to guide the small probe into proper position,
the IDET probe is place into the affected disc. Once
positioned, the probe is slowly heated to about 90 degrees
Celsius. It is maintained at this temperature for about five
minutes. After the IDET is completed, the patient is
monitored for a period of one or two hours. The patient is
then sent home with instructions to rest and to avoid
lifting, twisting, and bending.
Recovery from IDET
Patients often have mild pain for the first day or two
following an IDET procedure. The symptoms are usually easily
controlled with mild anti-inflammatory or pain medications.
Improvement is commonly seen about 2-3 weeks after the
procedure, but may take as long as 10-12 weeks, and
rehabilitation exercises are started 8- 12 weeks after the
The results of studies show encouraging results for IDET.
The most important aspect is ensuring the right patients are
being selected for this treatment. Patients must fit the
criteria as mentioned above in order to have the best chance
at success. IDET is a minimally invasive safe procedure with
few reported complications. Most studies show about 60-80%
of patients find significant improvement in the months
following an IDET procedure, but if candidate are chosen
carefully, the results could be much better.