Thermal intradiscal therapy for chronic low back pain, using a catheter inserted into the intervertebral disc, is becoming more popular in the treatment of low back pain. The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility of heating the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral disc with high-intensity focused ultrasound (US) or HIFU. Two specific situations were considered, invasive transducers that would be in contact with the annulus fibrosus of the disc, and noninvasive transducers that could be used externally. Theoretical simulations were performed to find the optimal parameters of US transducers and then experimental studies were done using transducers made to these specifications. These experiments confirmed that it was possible to heat the discs with HIFU. Two orthogonal transducers resulted in a superior temperature distribution than using just one transducer. It is, therefore, feasible to consider thermal treatment of the nucleus pulposus of the disc using noninvasive US.
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