Research Update on IDET for Pain Management

Two peer reviewed studies published in the October 2000 issue of SPINE Journal report on the outcomes of patients having received Intradiscal Electrothermal Annuloplasty (IDET) an average of one year after treatment.

Study on IDET for Severe Back Pain

In the first study, 36 patients with a minimum of 3 months of severe back pain underwent IDET procedure at one or two levels as determined by lumbar discography. Their outcome was compared to 17 similar patients treated with conservative therapy (rehabilitation).

  • Only 6% of the conservatively treated patients obtained greater than 50% relief of pain.
  • At least 50% of the IDET patients obtained greater than 50% pain relief, and 53% who were not working prior to the procedure were able to return to work.

It was noted that after 3 months, 50% of the IDET patients showed some deterioration, with 50% retaining substantial and sustained relief of pain at 6 and 12 months after the procedure. Overall, 60% of IDET patients benefited from the procedure, with 23% obtaining complete pain relief. The authors found these results encouraging.


Study on IDET for Chronic Back Pain

In the second study, 62 patients with an average of 5 years of chronic back pain underwent IDET procedure after having diagnostic discography. This study was co-authored by doctors Joel Saal and Jeff Saal, the inventors and owners of the technology.

  • Overall 71% to 74% of the patients improved significantly on 3 pain measurement scales
  • 19% of the patients had no improvement

Disc space narrowing of at least 30% was associated with a less favorable outcome in those patients treated at more than one level. The average time of follow up was 16 months.


Key Points on IDET Studies for Pain Management

The key points of these two studies are as follows:

  1. IDET procedure appears to be a reasonable and safe procedure for selected patients with chronic low back pain, with a 60% to 74% chance for significant pain relief that is usually sustained at 16 months.
  2. The presence of multiple levels of degeneration and disc space narrowing negatively impact the success rate.
  3. IDET appears to be a safe procedure with a very low complication rate when performed by a skilled physician.
  4. Additional studies with placebo controls are recommended.

Complications from IDET for Pain Management

While some serious complications have been reported with IDET, the complication rate is quite low. Always discuss the potential risks and complications of a surgical procedure with your physician.