A disc nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical treatment for herniated vertebral discs. This is a useful surgery in relieving the intense back and leg pain that is often caused due to a herniated (bulging) vertebral disc putting pressure on a nerve near the spinal column.
Also known as ‘percutaneous discectomy’, this surgery is mainly used to relieve the pressure being caused by the herniated disc on the spinal nerve which results in chronic back pain along with sciatic pain. This treatment method is usually advised after other non-surgical treatment methods have failed to treat the condition successfully.
When is a Disc Nucleoplasty needed?
A disc nucleoplasty is required to treat chronic back pain and other symptoms that are being caused by a herniated (bulging) disc in the vertebral (spinal) column. The vertebral disc acts as a shock absorber between the vertebras in the spine. A herniated disc is caused when a side of any of the vertebral discs starts to protrude abnormally. This abnormal bulging at the side of the discs can put undue pressure on the nearby nerve roots and pain receptors in the back.
Disc nucleoplasty is a treatment that is mostly considered as an option for relieving back pain and other symptoms of a herniated disc after all other treatment methods have been unsuccessful. This surgery is a minimally invasive type of surgery and is useful in relieving the back pain and leg pain caused by the herniated disc. This surgery removes excess tissue from the vertebral disc to relieve the pressure from the pinched nerves.
How is a Disc Nucleoplasty performed?
A disc nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure requiring local anesthesia to the back at the surgical (incision) site. The specialist neurosurgeon will use a thin needle to insert it from the back and to the herniated disc using advanced x-ray imaging techniques for guiding the surgical needle to the correct spot.
The neurosurgeon will then insert a small radio-frequency probe through the needle and to the disc and use it to aim pulses of high-frequency radio-waves at the disc in order to dissolve a small amount of the disc nucleus (soft, jelly-like substance inside the vertebral disc).
The bulging caused in the walls of the vertebral disc due to excessive fluid in the disc nucleus gets reduced as the amount of fluid decreases. This shrinking of the vertebral disc wall to its original size helps relieve the pressure being caused by it on the nerve roots and in turn decreases the pain in the back and the legs.
After the neurosurgeon is satisfied that there is no risk of herniated disc to recur the needle will be removed and the incision site closed with a small bandage and does not require any sutures.
What are the advantages of Disc Nucleoplasty?
Disc nucleoplasty is one of the treatment methods used to relieve back and leg pain being caused by a herniated (bulging) disc in the vertebral column. This treatment method has several unique advantages over the other herniated disc treatment methods, such as:
- Minimally invasive – Disc nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure and is advantageous as this approach does not carry the risk of possible nerve damage to the surrounding nerves around the herniated disc. A conventional open-type surgery may result in scar tissues from the large incisions required as well as possible nerve damage to the nerve roots.
- Higher success rates – Studies have shown that the minimally invasive disc nucleoplasty is around 70% more successful than other treatment methods for herniated disc in relieving the resultant chronic back and leg pain.
- Faster recovery/rehabilitation – As disc nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure and does not require stitches (sutures) there is no scarring and the person is able to resume normal everyday routine faster.
- Short procedure – This is a faster surgery and takes around 20-30 minutes of surgery time.
Disc nucleoplasty is now considered to be a better option than other treatment methods for relieving the chronic back and leg pain caused by a herniated (bulging) disc with added advantage of lesser pain after surgery as well as having a comparatively faster recovery.