At Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery, Drs. David Tran, board certified in both Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Pain Management, and Shane Mangrum, board certified in both Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, performed the first commercial Intracept case in Georgia on February 13, 2020. As of today, Polaris has treated more patients using Intracept than any other group in the Southeast (Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia.) These achievements spring from Polaris Spine’s continuing commitment to using innovative technology to improve patient outcomes and the patient experience.
Approximately 80% of us will experience back or neck pain at some point over the course of our lives. Low back pain is the most common reason individuals miss work and is responsible for 52 million annual visits to hospitals, emergency departments, outpatient clinics, and physician offices. In America, the total cost of low back pain exceeds $100 billion per year, with two-thirds of these costs due to lost wages and reduced productivity.
Historically, for those who suffer from low back pain due to disc degeneration, the primary medical treatment options have been physical therapy, medications, injections, or surgical options such as spinal fusion or total disc replacement. More recently, the vertebral bones above and below a degenerative disc have been shown to be a major pain source. Current available treatment options have failed to address these troubling vertebral endplates.
The new, minimally invasive Intracept Procedure is unique in that it targets the basivertebral nerve for the relief of chronic vertebrogenic low back pain. The basivertebral nerve lies in the center of the vertebral body, and carries pain signals from the vertebral endplates. The procedure involves inserting a probe into the vertebral body that uses radiofrequency heat to destroy the basivertebral nerve, stopping the transmission of the pain signals. The entire procedure takes approximately 60-90 minutes, does not involve any implants or sutures, and, perhaps most importantly of all, preserves the structure and mobility of the spine. Dr. Tran shares that, “Intracept is an innovative, safe, and highly effective treatment for axial low back pain. A high percentage of patients see dramatic, permanent improvements from this minimally invasive outpatient procedure, with very little post-procedure pain.”
The success of the Intracept Procedure is supported by two Level 1 randomized clinical trials, with an enrollment of over 350 patients. Intracept demonstrated statistical significance compared to both standard care and placebo therapy, with improvement in both pain and function measures across both trials, and durable results beyond five years post-procedure. Those treated also had a significant reduction in opioid usage and future procedure needs.
The ideal candidates are those seeking relief from chronic low back pain of at least six months duration that has not responded to conservative care. The presence of vertebral endplate changes (also called “modic changes”) on MRI are an indicator that such patients are candidates for Intracept.