A minimally invasive procedure for patients who have lower back or leg pain caused by a herniated disc, and who have not responded to any of the nonsurgical options.
During the Procedure
The patient lies facedown on an x-ray table while numbing medication is injected into the targeted area. Using fluoroscopic guidance, an introducer needle is inserted into the sidewall of the disc. Then the nucleoplasty device is positioned through the needle to remove a small center portion of the disc. The tissue around the spot where tissue was removed is heated, the device and needle removed, and the site bandaged.
The procedure takes 60 minutes, with about 60 minutes recovery. Sedation is provided and discomfort during the procedure should be minimal. The patient must be driven home and should be able to resume normal activity the next day, although motion should be somewhat limited for at least the next two weeks.
There might be a mild flare-up of back pain for a few days after the procedure. Some patients might need extra medication during this time. Other patients feel better right away or within days. Outcomes vary widely; success is considered at least a 50 percent improvement in pain.