For the millions of Americans who suffer from debilitating chronic low back pain, there is now hope in a new minimally invasive, outpatient procedure called Intracept, clinically proven to offer pain relief as opposed to the more invasive spinal fusion surgeries that are typically performed. Two Northwell hospitals, Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, are the first in New York City and Long Island to perform the Intracept procedure.
The new treatment targets a nerve located in the bones of the spine called vertebrae. During the procedure, the physician advances a specialized probe into the vertebrae and uses radiofrequency energy (heat) to disable the nerve, rendering it unable to transmit pain signals. Intracept takes approximately 60-90 minutes and does not involve an implant or change the structure of the spine. Intracept is indicated for patients who have experienced chronic low back pain for at least six months and have not responded to at least six months of conservative care.
David Langer, Lenox Hill’s chair of neurosurgery, was the first neurosurgeon in New York City to perform the Intracept procedure. One of Dr. Langer’s patients who received the procedure was Tom Doremus, 73, from Manhattan, who has suffered from debilitating chronic low back pain for the past five years.
“An important part of living in the city, is being able to walk,” Doremus said. “Before the Intracept procedure, my chronic low back pain made it very difficult. I began hobbling and sometimes, my legs felt like they were going to collapse. After the procedure with Dr. Langer, I immediately noticed that the pain was gone. I felt my feet firmly on the ground. I forgot what it was like to be normal and be able to walk anywhere. The procedure was everything I had hoped for in that I am pain free, much more stable and my balance has improved.”
In addition to Langer, Mohammed Bilal, Mather Hospital’s medical director of vascular and interventional radiology and Kevin Lien were two of the first physicians at the hospital to perform the Intracept procedure.
“This minimally invasive targeted therapy is ideal for select patients who suffer from chronic low back pain, felt to be related to degenerative changes involving the disc and adjacent bone of the spine, which can be evaluated on a magnetic resonance imaging scan. The Intracept procedure can rapidly provide pain relief, potentially decrease the need for additional surgical intervention and improves the patient’s overall quality of life,” Bilal said. “This procedure will revolutionize how we can manage these patient’s chronic back pain more effectively and economically.”
The Intracept procedure is supported by two randomized control trials with over 350 patients enrolling. One trial demonstrated a highly significant difference in pain reduction at three months for patients that received the Intracept procedure compared to patients that received standard care (conservative care). In the other trial, patients who received the Intracept procedure reported a 53% decrease in pain at their two-year follow up appointments.
“Other than surgery, we’ve never had anything to offer patients suffering from debilitating chronic low back pain that have failed conservative therapy,” Langer said. “With the Intracept procedure, we are embarking on a paradigm shift in how we treat chronic low back pain. As we saw with Mr. Doremus, the significant improvement in pain and function demonstrated by the Intracept procedure provides clear proof of the effectiveness of this treatment.”
To see if you are an eligible candidate for the Intracept procedure at Lenox Hill Hospital, call 212-434-3900 and at Mather Hospital, call 631-476-2767.
Submitted by Northwell Health.