What is a Percutaneous Discectomy?

Percutaneous discectomy explained by Denver, Golden, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, and Littleton Colorado’s top pain doctors

Back PainA percutaneous discectomy, which is also called nucleoplasty, is an alternative treatment approach for a herniated disc. The purpose of this procedure is to remove or reduce the inflamed tissue and excess fluid that surrounds the herniated disc as the damaged tissue is usually the cause of the pain that is experienced. The removal of this tissue reduces pressure on the spinal nerves and leads to dramatic pain relief.

Back pain is among the most commonly treated conditions in the U.S. and approximately 2% of workers’ compensation cases that are filed annually are related to a back injury that is causing serious pain. Back pain can typically be resolved through the use of medication, hot and cold treatments, and physical therapy. However, individuals suffering from severe back pain may be prescribed opioids or undergo invasive back surgery.

How is a Percutaneous Discectomy Performed?

Preparation For ProcedureA percutaneous discectomy can be performed in an outpatient setting and it can typically be performed in 30 minutes. The procedure involves the use of a probe and needle to remove the damaged herniated disc tissue through a tiny incision. Patients do not generally need to be heavily sedated, but a local anesthetic is administered directly to the skin. An imaging technique such as fluoroscopy is also used to guide the placement of the probe and needle into the back in order to allow the physician to treat the herniated disc. Once the needle has been properly placed, radio waves or heat are used to reduce and remove the damaged disc tissue. Removing the inflamed tissue is essential as this relieves pressure that was being placed on the spinal nerves and subsequently reduces the amount of pain the patient was experiencing. Clinical trials have demonstrated a success rate for the percutaneous discectomy procedure that is higher than 80%.

A patient’s level of pain and the presence of side effects are briefly monitored after the percutaneous discectomy is complete. After the anesthetic wears off, the injection site may be tender for 24 to 48 hours and the use of hot and cold packs is usually recommended. Following the procedure, pain medication that has a low dose may also be prescribed to help manage the pain. Patients are asked to rest and refrain from excessive activity for at least 24 hours after undergoing a percutaneous discectomy.

A percutaneous discectomy is an effective treatment approach that helps many patients avoid surgery. Furthermore, in comparison to surgery, there is only a small number of risks that are associated with this procedure and the recovery period is also a lot shorter. Therefore, a percutaneous discectomy is an especially optimal treatment method for patients who are suffering from an existing condition that would not allow them to undergo surgery.

Conditions Related To Percutaneous Discectomy

Herniated_DiscA percutaneous discectomy is typically recommended for patients who have back pain that has persisted for three months or more. A herniated disc is one of the most common conditions that necessitate back pain treatment. This condition begins to develop when the jelly-like fluid inside of a disc increases and puts excessive pressure on the walls of the disc; usually as the result of an injury or gradual wear and tear. When the fluid causes the walls of the discs to expand, it can cause spinal nerve compression, inflammation, and sciatica, each of which can lead to serious pain.

Numerous patients who have suffered from back pain due to a herniated disc typically report that conventional treatment methods are ineffective. As a result, several approaches have been established during the last ten years in order to provide innovative, non-surgical treatment options for patients with herniated discs.

A percutaneous discectomy is also a beneficial approach for individuals who have mobility problems because of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis. Removing damaged disc tissue and relieving spinal nerve compression can dramatically improve mobility as well as a patient’s psychological state.


A percutaneous discectomy is an innovative technique that effectively relieves back pain and nerve compression in patients suffering from different types of back problems. Patients who benefit the most from this procedure are those who have osteoporosis or a herniated disc as well as patients who did not experience pain relief after utilizing conventional approaches. Moreover, a percutaneous discectomy is often recommended before surgery because it is effective, minimally invasive, and poses less risk than surgery.

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