IDET is an acronym for Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy. It can cure
back pain due to degenerate discs and is an alternative to more major
Before considering IDET treatment, a discogram is done to identify the
cause of the pain. In the discogram test, dye is injected into several
discs. If the discogram is positive, and locates the discs that cause the
pain, either an IDET treatment or a
lumbar fusion may be recommended.
In the IDET procedure, a fine needle is placed in the painful disc. An
electrical probe is then passed through the needle and placed against the
damaged part of the disc’s covering. The probe is then heated. It is
thought that the heat seals cracks in the disc and deadens painful nerve
endings. A recent research study performed in Texas showed a “moderate”
benefit in certain carefully selected patients. Another recent study from
Australia, however, did not confirm that the IDET was helpful. Fusions
have a higher likelihood of success but are also risky.
Like any other surgery, consider the risks and benefits carefully. IDET
is not for everyone. It does not cure mechanical problems such as
instability. It is not a replacement for common sense treatments like
regular exercise, weight loss, and therapy. IDET could be helpful for some
with chronic back pain, who have failed other treatments, and who want to
avoid a lumber fusion.