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Treatment of multilevel degenerative disc disease with intradiscal electrothermal therapy

Department of Anesthesiology, Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, United States


Intradiscal electrothermal therapy is a frequently performed procedure for the pain of internal disc disruption. It is typically performed on one to two discs; the discal treatment is followed by a long period of rest and rehabilitation. In patients with multilevel disc disease, intradiscal electrothermal therapy is either not contemplated or only one to two discs are treated at a time. This approach therefore either denies these patients the potential benefits of intradiscal electrothermal therapy or significantly prolongs the period of pain and disability.
A 25-year-old female patient presented with internal disc disruption at four lumbar disc levels, diagnosed by provocative discography and post discography CT scan. All these discs were treated simultaneously by intradiscal electrothermal therapy. The patient tolerated the procedure well and responded favourably with significant and prolonged decrease in her symptoms. She reported sustained reduction in her pain and showed no clinical evidence of early neurological or infectious complications during 18 months of follow-up.
This report indicates that intradiscal electrothermal therapy can be performed at multiple levels at a single sitting, compared to intradiscal electrothermal therapy performed at one to two discs at a time, this approach may obviate the need for surgery and may reduce the duration of pain and disability incurred. However, the influence of multilevel intradiscal electrothermal therapy on long-term complications or outcome is not known.

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