Percutaneous Discectomy (Percutaneous Disc Nucleoplasty)

Percutaneous discectomy is a minimally-invasive pain relief procedure. A doctor typically creates a small cut to remove herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Minor variations of this procedure are common – as we discuss in the text below.

Percutaneous Discectomy may be performed if a diagnostic test such as an MRI or CT scan show that the disc is bulging, but the material hasn’t yet ruptured. Similarly patients choose to undergo this procedure if symptoms interrupt daily activities or there are signs of nerve damage worsening.

How is Percutaneous Discectomy Performed?

As an out-patient procedure, patients receive injectable local anesthetics. Once the incision site is numb, a doctor inserts a needle through the back and into the herniated disc. Since this is a very particular type of procedure, the doctor will use a “live x-ray” to guide needle placement.

The doctor then inserts a radiofrequency probe through the cannula and into the disc. This probe sends pulses of radio waves to dissolve a portion of disc nucleus. Since only enough of the disc is removed to reduce pressure inside the disc, the spine remains stable and the herniation is reabsorbed. The empty space created by the probe allows the disc to reabsorb the herniation.scalpel icon - Percutaneous Discectomy

Minor variations in procedures do occur, but you should typically expect a combination of:

  • Cutting it out
  • Sucking out the center of the disc
  • Using lasers to burn or destroy the disc

What Should I Expect?

Patients usually experience immediate pain relief after the procedure – with most experiencing a quick recovery and minimal scarring. If pain persists, prescription medicine is an option while you recover. Moreover, for several weeks after surgery you’ll need to avoid long periods of sitting while avoiding bending, twisting, and lifting.

If you need an evaluation or consultation for percutaneous discectomy, please contact us at (201) 729-0001. One of our specialists will be of assistance. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West OrangeAberdeenClifton, and Lyndhurst.

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