Skip to Main

New Intracept ablation proves effective for quelling low back pain

Intracept is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that uses radiofrequency ablation to target and deaden the nerves responsible for vertebrogenic low back pain. (Relievant Medsystems)

DALLAS – Sept. 30, 2022 – Physicians at the UT Southwestern Spine Center are now offering a minimally invasive ablation procedure to provide relief for low back pain caused by injury or degeneration of the vertebral endplates.

G. Sunny Sharma, M.D.
G. Sunny Sharma, M.D.

Intracept, a radiofrequency nerve ablation, is the only FDA-approved procedure for vertebrogenic low back pain. G. Sunny Sharma, M.D., Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Ankit Patel, M.D., Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, who practice interventional spine and musculoskeletal medicine, began performing the procedure earlier this year. 

“It is a privilege that our team can offer this minimally invasive outpatient procedure that can provide lasting relief of chronic low back pain without a lengthy recovery or spinal hardware,” said Dr. Sharma.

Research has shown that pain relief can begin within weeks and is durable. In one 12-month study, 64% of patients who were treated with Intracept reported a greater than 50% reduction in pain, and 30% said their pain was resolved completely. Almost no steroid injections were necessary in the year following the ablation.

Ankit Patel, M.D.
Ankit Patel, M.D.

Intracept, developed by Relievant Medsystems Inc., targets the basivertebral nerve (BVN) that runs through the vertebrae. This includes the vertebral endplates, bilayers of cartilage and bone that separate the intervertebral disks from the adjacent vertebrae. The intervention involves ablating the BVN to block afferent signals from the damaged site back to the brain while the central spinal cord, from which other nerves emanate, remains intact.

Dr. Sharma said chronic low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability. While the Intracept procedure targets pain coming from the endplate, he cautioned that many patients have more than one source of back pain, including joint pain and disc pain, that would require other treatments.

Both interventionalists are encouraged by early feedback from patients.

“Before this treatment was available, it was a challenge to provide a solid treatment option for my patients who suffered from chronic back pain from degenerative endplates,” said Dr. Patel. “Basivertebral nerve ablation is a unique and promising intervention that I am excited to offer to many of my patients. Intracept can help my patients to obtain a better quality of life, reduce use of pain medications, and avoid corrective spine surgery.”

The two look forward to monitoring outcomes and performing research on this treatment to help further the evolution of its role in their spine practice.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center  

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,900 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 4 million outpatient visits a year.