Intracept® Procedure (Relievant)

Treating Chronic Low Back Pain with the Intracept® Procedure

The Intracept procedure is an ultra-minimally invasive outpatient procedure developed to help patients with chronic low back pain due to vertebrogenic pain. This procedure targets the basivertebral nerve located within the vertebral body, which, once ablated, has been shown to provide long-term pain relief and improve physical function. 

The procedure is performed through less than a ¼-inch incision preserving low back muscles. The procedure also has a very short recovery and fast return to work and physical activity. This procedure has more rapid recovery times than minimally invasive spine surgeries.

Chronic Low Back Pain Versus Vertebrogenic Pain: What is the Difference?

  • Chronic low back pain – persists for twelve weeks or longer after an initial injury or the underlying cause of acute low back pain has been treated. Twenty percent of people suffering from acute low back pain will develop chronic low back pain with symptoms persisting for one year. Chronic low back pain can be caused by several different pain generators located in the lumbar spine. 
  • Vertebrogenic pain is a specific type of chronic low back pain caused by degenerative changes in the vertebral endplates, where the disc meets the vertebral body. The pain generator causing vertebrogenic pain is the basivertebral nerve. The wear and tear of everyday life can lead to degenerative disc changes, causing stress and damage to the endplates leading to inflammation and vertebrogenic pain. 

Chronic low back pain usually stems from degenerative changes in the facet joints, vertebral bodies, or spinal discs. In addition, the pain can be caused by:

Muscle, tendons, ligaments, vertebral body, and spinal discs

Wear and tear to the intervertebral disc, spondylosis, arthritis, and inflammatory disease.

Nerve compression, inflammation, and injuries caused by one or more conditions, such as spinal stenosis, sciatica, and infections, to name a few.

How is Vertebrogenic Pain Diagnosed?

Each surgeon has an algorithm they follow when seeking a diagnosis for chronic low back pain. Before moving to interventional surgical treatment, patients must be experiencing chronic low back pain for six months and have failed conservative care efforts for six months. To confirm that a patient has vertebrogenic pain, physicians use an MRI image to look for specific changes that occur with endplate degeneration and inflammation, called Modic Type 1 or 2 changes.  

Spine Skeletal Model
Spinal bone spurs
Skeletal Model Showing Scoliosis

How is the Intracept® Procedure Performed?

Intracept is an ultra-minimally invasive outpatient procedure that treats vertebrogenic pain. The procedure targets a nerve inside the vertebral body called the basivertebral nerve (BVN). Here is a short video with Dr. Nima Salari performing the surgery.

Here is how the procedure is performed:

Through a less than ¼ inch incision, an Intercept Introducer Cannula is guided under fluoroscopic X-ray through the pedicle of the targeted vertebral body.

The Intercept Curved Cannula Assembly is inserted to create a pathway to the trunk of the basivertebral nerve.

The Intercept RF Probe is inserted into the channel at the trunk of the basivertebral nerve.

The Intracept® RF Generator delivers radiofrequency energy that ablates the basivertebral nerve.

What are the Advantages of the Intracept® Procedure?

Intracept is the only procedure that treats vertebrogenic low back pain. There are many advantages of the procedure over more invasive spine surgery.

  • Ultra-minimally Invasive
  • Implant-free
  • Long-term pain relief
  • Brief recovery/outpatient procedure
  • Proven safety profile
  • Preserves low back muscles
Dr Abrams explaining spine x-ray Dr. Abrams laughing

Contact DISC to see if you’re a candidate for the Intracept® procedure.

Patients with chronic low back pain that have not responded to at least 6 months of conservative care and an MRI that shows changes at L3 through S1 should make an appointment with DISC spine surgeons to determine if this is the best procedure for your care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.


Our spine health blog features up-to-date spine education and expert spine tips from our spine specialists here at DISC.