Public Release: 

Thermal heat procedure offers low back pain suffers new treatment option

Rush University Medical Center

Thermal Heat Procedure Offers Low Back Pain Suffers New Treatment Option Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center is first in Chicago to offer SpineCATH IDET Therapy

While most people with back pain do get better with rest, medication and physical therapy, about 10 percent of those with chronic back pain require surgery. For these individuals there is a option now available in the Chicago area at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center.

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy, or SpineCATH IDET, is a new minimally invasive surgery that uses heat to treat back pain caused by cracks or fissures in the intevertebral disc. Discs serve as cushions for the individual vertebrae, protecting them from the rigors of walking, running and jumping. However, with normal aging, discs can become degenerated and in turn bulge and press on the pain receptors in each disc. This can result in low back pain in some individuals.

The IDET procedure is done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia or a mild sedative. With the guidance of x-ray images, the physician advances a needle into the disc. The SpineCath catheter is then passed through the needle and into the disc. Once it is in the appropriate position, the temperature of the heating section of the catheter is gradually increased, raising the disc wall temperature.

The heat contracts and thickens the collagen on the disc wall and raises the temperature of the nerve ending, which results in contraction or closure of the disc wall fissures, a reductionin the bulge of the inner disc material and a desensitzation of the pain sensors within the

"Lower back pain is so prevalent in our society. Thankfully, some patients respond to medications or therapeutic exercise, but others experience severe disc degeneration as a result of age or injury to the back," said Dr. Howard An, orthopedic surgeon at Rush. "This new therapy may provide relief for those who have tried, but were not successful, with conventional treatment for their chronic lower back pain."

Dr. An stressed that surgery is not a first option for most patients with low back pain and that only those patients who have pain associated with their spinal discs, as well as those who respond to non surgical therapy, are good candidates for IDET.

One in five Americans suffer from back pain and most receive non surgical, or standard treatment, with analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, or tylenol) muscle relaxants, or physical therapy.


Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center includes the 809-bed Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital; 154-bed Johnston R. Bowman Health Center for the Elderly; Rush University (Rush Medical College, College of Nursing, College of Health Sciences and Graduate College); and seven Rush Institutes providing diagnosis, treatment and research into leading health problems. The medical center is the tertiary hub of the Rush System for Health, a comprehensive healthcare system capable of serving about two million people through its outpatient facilities and five member hospitals.

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