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Long term outcome studies are not yet available but are in progress. Joel Saal, M.D., and Jeff Saal, M.D., the inventors and owners of the technology, have recently completed a few small, short-term studies for IDET. One study included 62 patients, the other included 32 patients, and both had a one-year follow-up period.
These studies have shown that approximately 70% to 80% of patients are satisfied with the procedure. General areas of improvement include:
- Most of these patients report an increased activity level and improved sitting tolerance
- The usage of pain medication seems to be diminished
- Improvement is frequently noted within a few days of the procedure but may take up to 6 to 8 weeks to be noticed. Improvement may continue for 4 to 6 months
- Results so far suggest that most people who feel significant improvement after one year continue to do well at two years of follow-up.
Several factors seem to help predict a successful outcome, including:
- Single level disc disease
- Good catheter placement at the time of the procedure
- Absence of secondary gain issues (such as financial gain from pending litigation or workers compensation).
This last factor - secondary gain - clearly impacts the outcome of all spinal procedures.
Studies are underway to determine the long-term effect of IDET on the appearance of the disc on MRI imaging.
Potential Risks and Complications of IDET
IDET is a very safe procedure with a very low risk for complications. Disc space infection and nerve injury are seen less than 1% of the time. No serious complications have yet been reported.