Intracept Procedure

Intracept ablation is a solution to relieve vertebrogenic lower back pain. Vertebrogenic pain is pain caused by vertebral endplate nerve dysfunction. In the spine, there is a thin layer of cartilage between each vertebra and disc. That thin layer of cartilage is dense with nerves that can become compressed over time, causing chronic pain. By targeting the basivertebral nerve, the Intracept procedure can significantly and permanently relieve lower back pain.

Intracept Procedure

Who Should Have the Intracept Procedure?

Intracept isn’t for every type of back pain. It’s targeted towards pain caused by a specific nerve, the basivertebral nerve. In general, you might be a candidate for the Intracept procedure if:

  • You have lower back pain lasting more than six months
  • Traditional treatments haven’t relieved your pain
  • An MRI confirms that your pain is vertebrogenic

If you’ve previously been diagnosed with “non-specific” lower back pain and haven’t found pain relief, you may have vertebrogenic pain. This type of pain is often misdiagnosed.

Intracept is not recommended for people who:

  • Are diagnosed with scoliosis
  • Have severe cardiac or pulmonary conditions
  • Have an active infection
  • Are pregnant
  • Are younger than 18
  • Have an implantable pulse generator like a pacemaker
Procedure and Recovery

The Intracept procedure is done in a surgery center or hospital under general anesthesia. You’ll typically go home the same day. You will need someone to drive you home after the procedure.

  1. You’ll be given general anesthesia and will be asleep for the procedure.
  2. You’ll lie on your stomach on a surgical table.
  3. Your doctor will numb the skin over the affected vertebra using a topical anesthetic.
  4. Using a fluoroscope (a type of X-ray) to target the precise location, he or she will insert a thin needle into the area near the basivertebral nerve.
  5. A tiny electrode in the needle will send a small current of energy into the nerve, destroying just enough of it to stop it from sending pain signals to the brain.
  6. After the procedure, you’ll rest in a recovery area until you are cleared to go home.

You should not drive, exercise, or do any strenuous activities for the first 24 hours. Most people can return to their normal activities the next day.

Most patients find their pain improves significantly after the procedure and continues to improve over time. Most nerves in your body can regenerate. The basivertebral nerve does not regenerate. That means it won’t grow back and transmit pain signals again later.

Side Effects

Intracept ablation is typically a safe and effective procedure that is well tolerated. There are few risks or side effects. Temporary side effects may include:

  • Leg pain
  • Discomfort at the injection site
  • Swelling or bruising at the injection site
  • Infection or bleeding (rare)
  • Nerve damage (rare)
  • Fracture (rare)

If you think the Intracept procedure may be right for you, schedule a consultation visit today.

Quick Facts
  • Treatment option for chronic lower back pain.

  • Minimally invasive treatment.

  • An option when others types of treatments are not successful.

Intracept Doctors
Christopher Tomaras MD
Raymond Walkup MD