Press Release

Media Treatment by Doctors You Can Count on VOL.090


Improvement of intervertebral disc through injection: outpatient treatment of herniated disc with “the Cellgel method” at the ILC International Lumbago Clinic in Tokyo.

Tadaaki Minowa, Clinic Director

The ILC International Lumbago Clinic Tokyo is located in one of the most prestigious cluster of office buildings in Japan, a 7-minute walk from Shinagawa Station. The clinic focuses on a low back pain treatment method called the “Cellgel method,” currently available only at this clinic in Japan (as of January 2023), and which repairs the intervertebral disc by directly filling the inside of the disc with a special therapeutic solution called DiscoGel.

According to Dr. Tadaaki Minowa, the clinic director, while in Japan, it is still a “confidential” treatment method, it has already been introduced in more than 54 countries around the world, including France. And since it does not require surgery and has a low recurrence rate, I would like to take this opportunity to recommend persons who have long suffered from back pain caused by herniated discs or spinal canal stenosis to inquire about the Cellgel method. (Date of interview: December 21, 2022)

No surgery or hospitalization required; a triple effect that relieves pain and numbness in the lower back.

– What kind of treatment method is the Cellgel method?

The Cellgel method is a treatment method that aims to improve low back pain originating from spinal disorders such as herniated discs and intervertebral discs by filling the deteriorated discs with a unique therapeutic solution called DiscoGel to promote the repair of the damaged areas.

For example, in the treatment of a herniated disc, the cellulose in DiscoGel coats and repairs the inside of the disc, preventing the nucleus pulposus from leaking outward any further. The nucleus pulposus gradually retracts into the disc after the injection. In addition, the DiscoGel fills the disc and turns into a cushioning material, which in turn will promote the cushioning function of the disc. In this way, the Cellgel method aims to improve various symptoms caused by spinal disorders through these 3 effects of “repairing,” “retracting,” and “replenishing”.

– What are the advantages of the Cellgel method?

The greatest advantage is that it does not require surgery and is a outpatient treatment. Until now, hernia treatment had mainly consisted of conservative treatment and surgery, with surgery being the only option for early treatment of the root cause. The Cellgel method involves injecting DiscoGel using a syringe under local anesthesia, so after approximately an hour of recuperation after the procedure, the patient is free to go home on the same day. Daily routines and light work can be performed on the next day.

Because the Cellgel method does not require the use of a scalpel, it can be performed on patients who cannot undergo general anesthesia or who are unable to undergo further surgery due to a chronic illness or the medication they are taking. Patients who are afraid of surgery, or who are unable to take long periods of time off work, may consider this method more readily as well.

– Are there any disadvantages to the Cellgel Method?

Rather than a real disadvantage, it is more a matter to be clarified beforehand: we explain beforehand that there may be individual differences before you start to feel the effect, and that it may take 3 weeks for the earliest cases and several months in the longest cases. In addition, the injected DiscoGel may temporarily compress the nerves or retract the surrounding tissues due to the decompression caused by the DiscoGel effect, which may cause the patient to feel a worsening of symptoms in the early stages of the treatment.

Patients who are considering treatment at our clinic often have high expectations for the Cellgel method, and some incorrectly believe that they will experience dramatic results immediately after the treatment. We try to provide detailed explanations beforehand so that the patients do not become excessively concerned by the time it may take until they feel the effects of the treatment.

Treatment available on the same day of the consultation. One-year follow-up by our staff available.

– What does the treatment process involve?

After contacting us, you will have an MRI scan taken at one of our affiliated facilities, as the data will be needed on the day of your consultation at our clinic. Our doctor will then spend 30 minutes interviewing and examining you, confirming the findings with the MRI data you brought with you. Next the doctor will go over the MRI images with you, explaining in detail your current medical condition and making specific recommendations on the possibility of a treatment, and how to proceed about it. If you still wish to undergo the treatment, you will then receive a complementary explanation in a separate room and fill out a consent form prior to the treatment. For the patients who only want a consultation prior to an actual examination, we offer free imaging consultation during which our doctor will examine the MRI images you will have provided us and compile a report.

Our staff will call you one week, one month, three months, six months, and one year after the treatment date to check on any changes in pain or concerns. If you wish, we can also offer accommodation in our rehabilitation facility specifically designed for back pain.

– Who should consider the Cellgel method?

Anyone who has disc degeneration. Especially, patients with herniated discs or spinal canal stenosis who already suffer from degenerated discs, should consider the Cellgel method to prevent further deterioration of their discs. Even patients with mild symptoms may develop cracks in the disc over time, so it is a good idea to consider treatment before the disc has completely its original volume.

A herniated disc can occur regardless of age or sports history, even in teenagers. If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc in the past, have received treatment in the past but had a recurrence, or if you have been suffering from back pain for at least three months, please do not hesitate to come to us for a consultation.

Personal message from Doctor Tadaaki Minowa, clinic director:

“Medical care tends to focus on extending life expectancy, but it can also contribute greatly to extending “healthy life expectancy”, as pain can significantly reduce quality of life. We are convinced that the Cellgel procedure will be a new option for those who seek to live their own lives to the fullest, without back pain or numbness.

It is possible to perform the procedure on patients who have been denied surgery due to age or complications. Even those who are concerned about the risks associated with surgery may consider it safely. If you are suffering from back pain, do not hesitate to call for a consultation”.