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New Procedure for Chronic Back Pain

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Patients with lower back pain now have access to an innovative new procedure that offers long-lasting relief for lower back pain. The minimally invasive, FDA-approved outpatient procedure is called Intracept, and St. Elizabeth Healthcare is the only hospital-based system in Greater Cincinnati where it is available. This new procedure gives patients who have not experienced treatment success the possibility of long-term relief from pain.         

“We have a lot of chronic back pain patients who have tried procedures and medications to no avail,” says Lance Hoffman, MD, Interventional Pain Management Specialist at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “They’re understandably frustrated that they continue to live with chronic pain. Spinal Intracept is an effective solution to treat chronic low back pain at its source.”

During the procedure, a tiny incision introduces the needle into the vertebral body. Using guided X-ray imaging, the specialist guides the needle to the precise position in the bone within the vertebral body. A small shepherd hook-type device creates a channel toward the middle of the bone to the base nerve. An Intracept probe (electrode) is placed into the vertebral body and emits radiofrequency energy (heat) to the base nerve, which disables the nerve. This process is called basivertebral ablation.

The Intracept procedure involves making a small incision over each vertebral level causing the patient’s pain to denervate the affected vertebral bodies. It takes approximately 15 minutes per level, with the entire procedure lasting less than one hour. The small incisions are closed with surgical glue. After spending time in recovery, the patient returns home to continue resting. Patients are typically back to their everyday activities within a few days.

Data released in the European Spine Journal in 2021 shows significant pain relief for chronic back pain patients: 33% reported no pain and more than half of the patients have at least a 75% reduction in pain at the five-year mark. Lower back pain affects more than 31 million people and is one of the most common reasons people see their physician. This one-time procedure can significantly reduce back pain and is a welcome option to many chronic back pain sufferers.

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Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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