Intracept is a minimally invasive procedure developed by Relievant to treat chronic low back pain by targeting the basivertebral nerves.
The basivertebral nerves are pain sensing nerves that enter the vertebral bodies of the spinal column. Within each vertebral body, the nerve branches and supplies the upper and lower surfaces of the vertebral body called the endplates. When these surfaces undergo damage or degeneration, the nerve fibers at the endplates increase in density transmitting nerve impulses responsible for chronic back pain.
The Intracept procedure may be recommended if you have chronic low back pain that is not adequately relieved by conservative measures such as rest, medications, steroid injections or physical therapy, but your pain is not severe enough to consider invasive spine surgery.
How is the Intracept Procedure Performed?
The Intracept procedure targets the basivertebral nerve for the relief of back pain. It is an outpatient procedure performed under anesthesia. You will lie face down for the procedure. Fluoroscopic or live x-ray imaging is used to guide the surgical instruments. An incision is made over the lower spine and the affected vertebral body is approached through the pedicle with the help of an introducer cannula. A curved cannula is then used to create a tunnel that extends to the trunk of the basivertebral nerve. A radiofrequency probe is inserted through this tunnel and the basivertebral nerve is ablated, thus stopping the transmission of pain signals.
Advantages of the Intracept procedure include the following:
- It is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure with a quick recovery
- No implants are used
- Spinal structure is preserved
- Long-term relief of back pain is possible leading to an improved quality of life.
Risks and Complications
As with any surgical procedure, the Intracept procedure may be associated with certain risks and complications. Your doctor will discuss whether this procedure is ideal for you.
Intracept is ideal for those with chronic low back pain unrelieved by conservative treatments but not severe enough to consider back surgery.
Many report significant pain relief even 2 years after the procedure.