A giant herniated disc following intradiscal electrothermal therapy

Steven P. Cohen, Thomas Larkin, David W. Polly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The introduction of intradiscal electrothermal therapy for the management of discogenic back pain has been met with intense interest over the past few years. During this time there have been several noncontrolled studies published on the procedure, most of which have shown excellent outcomes but few, if any, complications. The authors describe a 29-year-old, 152-kg active duty male soldier who underwent two-level intradiscal electrothermal therapy for L4-L5 and L5-S1 discogenic pain. Before the procedure, the patient had a small L5-S1 contained herniation, with no signs of radiculitis. Postprocedure, the patient developed radicular symptoms and was noted on MRI to have a large L5-S1 disc herniation effacing the left S1 nerve root. Follow-up discography revealed a negative discogram at L4-L5. The patient proceeded to undergo a single-level lumbar fusion, which resulted in nearly complete relief of his radicular and axial low back pain. Two years post-surgery, he is off all narcotic medications and continues to work full-time as a soldier. This case illustrates both the potential benefits and complications that may be associated with intradiscal electrothermal therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-541
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Complication
  • Discogenic pain
  • Herniated nucleus pulposus
  • Internal disc disruption
  • Intradiscal electrothermal therapy


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