Patient Information Resources

Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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Last month I had a treatment to my spine called IDET. Now that I'm feeling human again, I started wondering how they actually do this procedure. I know the surgeon explained it all to me. But I was in so much pain, I didn't hear much of anything. I'm a little embarrassed to ask my doctor to re-explain it to me, so I thought I could find out from you.

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) is a form of heat treatment applied directly to the disc. After the patient is anesthetized, the surgeon inserts a long, thin needle through the skin into the center of the disc. A special X-ray device called fluoroscopy guides the surgeon throughout the procedure.

Next, a heat-resistant coil is inserted through the needle into the disc. The coil is positioned in the outer portion of the posterior (back of the) annulus. The annulus is the outside covering of the disc. It surrounds the inner core called the nucleus. A heating electrode is placed next to the protective coil. Only the area in contact with the electrode heats up.

Heat is applied until the temperature of the annulus reaches a pre-determined point. This is decided according to the surgeon performing the procedure. The target temperature is maintained for at least five minutes. One or two discs can be treated this way per session.

The patient is anesthetized under conscious sedation. This means the person is awake but doesn't feel anything. This way, the patient can report any signs or symptoms of nerve root irritation right away. If all goes well, the needle is removed and the operation is over. The procedure is done on an out-patient basis. The patient goes home the same day.


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