I have a bad disc in my low back. I've tried exercise, rest, drugs, and brace. Nothing works. I'm looking into having the new IDET treatment, but I've been warned I may end up with surgery later anyway. What are the chances of this happening?

IDET is a means of heating the disc up to high temperatures. The result for many patients is less pain and a more stable spine. Failure to provide pain relief is viewed as a treatment failure. These patients often have the disc removed later and may have the spine fused at that level.

How often does this happen? Using math models, scientists predict surgery will be needed 15 percent of the time one-year after IDET. It's predicted that as many as 30 percent of patients having IDET will need an operation two years later.

There aren't enough studies yet to confirm these predictions. A study on general back patients having surgery showed the reoperation rate to be eight to 10 percent. This was true no matter what kind of back surgery was done. A recent report from a clinic in Los Angeles showed 14 percent of their patients had back fusion or disc removal one year after IDET.