The Science Behind the Intracept Procedure

Many patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) are told their pain is discogenic – pain originating from the discs located between the spinal vertebrae. But research over the past 30 years has shown that for many of these patients, their pain actually comes from their vertebral endplates – the bone on either side of the disc. This type of pain is known as vertebrogenic pain.

Vertebral endplates – found on either side of the disc – can become damaged over time. When damaged, small fissures in the endplates may allow spinal disc material to enter the vertebra itself, causing inflammation. The Basivertebral Nerve (BVN), found within the vertebra, becomes sensitized when endplates are damaged. When it senses inflammation, the BVN transmits back pain signals from the vertebra to the brain.

Your doctor will utilize a routine MRI of your spine to specifically look for Modic changes – a biomarker that identifies inflammation caused by endplate damage – which indicates your pain may be vertebrogenic. Modic changes help your doctor understand where your pain is coming from, and are an important indicator that you may be a candidate for the Intracept Procedure.

How Intracept Works

Intracept is the only procedure specifically approved to stop pain transmitted through the BVN.The procedure starts with your doctor making a small incision in your lower back to reach the painful vertebra. After creating a channel inside the vertebra to reach the basivertebral nerve, your doctor will use radiofrequency energy to heat the nerve – stopping it from transmitting pain signals. Your doctor may repeat this step in several other vertebra, after which the incisions are closed – leaving nothing behind.

What to Expect After the Intracept Procedure

Following the procedure, your doctor may recommend some precautions to take – and after a brief healing period, most people resume normal activities. Some even start to feel relief immediately after the procedure. Different from other nerves in your body that regenerate, the BVN has not shown an ability to grow back following the Intracept procedure. In fact, Intracept patients in a recent study reported their improvements in function and pain lasted more than 5 years following the procedure – with over a third of these patients indicating they were totally pain-free at that time.

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Overall, 83% of our patients report a better quality of life, 60% report less pain, and 62% report improvement in their function

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