After the New Year, many of us resolve to get into better shape, or change our diet and exercise. For some people the struggle is more intense and existential…some people are resolving to just stop living in pain in 2022. Other patients have been in pain medications and dealt with the deleterious effects on their bodies and lifestyles that their resolution is equally critical and life changing, (if not live SAVING given the ongoing opiate crisis.) Now patients of Dr. Paul Pannozzo, M.D. and Summa Pain Care may have the option of doing both and truly changing their lives in the new year. One of the many routes to this better quality of life is the intracept procedure.

Who Can Benefit from Intracept?

Intracept is a prescribed treatment for patients that exhibit chronic lower back pain, but do not show any spinal instability or scoliosis, however present changes on an MRI referred to as “modic changes”. These are patients who have lived with chronic back pain for over six months and haven’t responded to non-surgical treatment options.

The intracept procedure is ideal for working with patients who have stress-led microfractures of the vertebral body endplates. Multiple factors may contribute such as back injury, genetic makeup or birth defects can lead to microfractures. And since the basivertebral nerve is located within the vertebral body and transmits pain from the endplates, by blocking the nerve signals before they can branch out to them, pain can be reduced, if not eliminated.

Click here.

How Does Intracept Differ From Other Treatments?

According to, the procedure has been based upon over 30 years of research,

  • “Nearly 80% Of patients in a recent long-term study would have intracept again for the same condition”
  • “After 5 years 65% Of patients reported that they had resumed the level of activity they enjoyed prior to low back pain in a recent long-term study.”
  • And there were “Less than 0.3% Rate of serious complications reported”
  • “At five years post-procedure 93% fewer patients had received injections.”

When a patient presents with chronic lower back pain, but doesn’t have scoliosis or lumbar instability, typical treatments would previously include physical therapy and local epidural steroid injections, or failing those: lumbar fusion surgery with somewhat unpredictable results. Intracept is a brief, outpatient procedure which is implant-free and preserves the spinal structure. There is no required time off or recovery period and provides durable back pain relief in most patients. Thirty percent of patients reported no back pain at 5 years and sixty percent were able to terminate narcotic drug use.

“Basivertebral nerve ablation is the first new treatment for chronic low back pain to come along during my career that meets all the important benchmarks of medical research and validation including statistical superiority, clinical relevance, reproducibility, and durability,” said Matthew Smuck, MD, Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Stanford University, and Trial Investigator for the newly published 12-month study as reported by

“Dr. Smuck commented on the generalizability of the study results in multiple environments across the United States. “Patients were enrolled in clinics across the US by orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, anesthesiologists, and interventional radiologists who — once trained on the Intracept procedure — all achieved positive outcomes,” he concluded. “I’ve been happy with outcomes in my practice. They mirror the results published in the INTRACEPT Study,”

How Does Intracept Work?

The Intracept Procedure involves introducing a minimally invasive, specialized ‘intracept probe’ into the vertebrae through a tiny incision in the lower back only 5 or 6 millimeters in depth, a doctor then positions the probe to an extremely precise position at the location of the basivertebral nerve and uses radiofrequency energy or RF heat to disable the nerve. It is also known as basivertebral nerve ablation.

Why Would Intracept NOT Be Recommended For A Patient.

  • If a Patient doesn’t have Modic changes on MRI
  • If a Patient has Modic 3 changes (end-stage sclerosis)
  • If a Patient has Scoliosis
  • If a Patient has severe cardiac or pulmonary compromise
  • If a Patient has active systemic or local infection
  • If a Patient hasis pregnant
  • If a Patient is Skeletally immature (generally < 18 years of age)
  • If a Patient has implantable pulse generators (e.g., pacemakers, defibrillators) or other electronic implants

Comments are closed.