Spinal catheter therapy originated in the USA. In Germany, it is known primarily under the term of the Racz catheter.
Spinal catheter therapy belongs to the category of interventional pain therapies. The Racz catheter is used to combat back pain permanently and extremely effectively – without the need for open surgery. The recognized procedure was developed by the scientist Professor Gabor Racz, who is thus also the eponym of the spinal catheter.
The spinal catheter proves to be extremely elastic and is designed in such a way that pain relief takes place directly at the root of the affected nerves. The active ingredients are immediately delivered to the nerve root, which makes it possible to treat both chronic and acute spinal conditions. The first approach to dealing with back pain might be taking medications to alleviate the pain. You may opt for medications and nerve-blocking injections to deal with back issues, but surgery might be ideal for certain conditions.
The principle of spinal catheter therapy
The spinal catheter therapy according to Racz, which is called Spinal Catheter Therapy in the English-speaking world, is used by doctors to carry out a causal treatment of different back pain. Surgery is not required, because in Spinal Catheter Therapy the flexible catheter is simply passed through the spinal canal – the spinal canal.
Due to the high flexibility of the catheter, it is possible to reach all spinal segments. As soon as the probe reaches the area of pain, various regenerative, anti-inflammatory or analgesic substances can be delivered through it. In this way, the substances act directly on the compressed or inflamed nerves.
This is how spinal catheter therapy works
The first step in spinal catheter therapy involves local anesthesia. As soon as the local anesthesia takes effect, the insertion of a highly elastic special cannula takes place.
This is made possible by a small incision, usually no larger than two millimeters. The spinal catheter is then passed through the epidural space. This is the area between the hard meninges, which surround the spinal cord, and the vertebral bodies.
If the patient suffers from problems in the thoracic or lumbar spine, the doctors usually place the access for the catheter near the coccyx. If, on the other hand, the complaints occur in the area of the cervical spine, they access the affected area via the thoracic vertebrae. During the procedure there is a constant control with the help of an X-ray machine. This ensures precise control at all times.
The structure of the spinal catheter includes a plastic tube made of a particularly compatible material and an elastic steel spring attached to the tip of the tube. The procedure takes no more than 30 minutes on average.
In most patients, it is necessary to perform the application of the agents a total of four times. Some clinics therefore admit patients as inpatients for this time. In this way, the catheter does not have to be reinserted. However, bed rest is not necessary between the individual applications.
The effect of spinal catheter therapy
A saline solution is used in spinal catheter therapy, which is combined with various anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing substances. The spinal catheter allows the agents to be targeted precisely in the areas where the affected nerve roots are located.
As a result, the inflamed tissue swells or is drained. This is where the osmotic principle comes into play. The semi-permeable membranes allow fluids to escape, but solids cannot diffuse. Additional injections of special enzyme solutions with the Racz catheter are also possible. These ensure that any adhesions and scarring near the spinal cord are dissolved.