Intradiscal Percutaneous Procedures

A herniated disc can cause intense pain. If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc, an intradiscal percutaneous procedure – also known as disc nucleoplasty – may provide immediate relief from your suffering.

This minimally invasive surgery allows patients to resume normal activities within a few weeks. A Tampa Bay spine surgeon can perform this procedure in-house and get you on the road to recovery from the herniated desk.

Herniated Discs

The human spine consists of 33 vertebrae, or bones, stacked upon each other. In between each vertebra are rubbery cushions known as discs. Each disc consists of a hard outer ring and a gel-like interior. Discs not only provide cushioning and shock absorption to the backbone but help keep the vertebrae in place. As people get older, the material comprising the discs starts to degenerate, and the bones no longer have good support. When a disc herniates, its gel-like substance within leaks out.

Herniated discs are also known as ruptured or “slipped” discs. There are two possible causes of pain when discs herniate. Pain may result from a “pinched nerve” when the material emanating from the disc hits an adjoining nerve.

This type of pain concentrates in the lower back to the leg, or from the neck through the arms. The other type of pain, known as axial pain, occurs when the space within the disc hurts. Other symptoms of herniated discs include:

  • Burning or tingling in the back, arms, neck or legs
  • Sudden muscle weakness
  • Numbness, usually on one side of the body
  • Pain worsening at night.

Women are more likely to have them than men. Furthermore, older people and those dealing with obesity are at greater risk. Because of the pain it can cause, most people seek medical treatment without which permanent nerve damage can result.

Doctors diagnose herniated discs via a physical examination and a combination of X-rays, MRIs and/or CAT scans. Some patients may recover with conservative treatment consisting of back braces, exercise therapy, and pain medication. These conservative measures do not work for everyone, however.

For many patients, minimally invasive surgery such as an intradiscal percutaneous procedure is the most sensible course of treatment.

What Happens During the Procedure

Patients undergoing an intradiscal percutaneous procedure receive a local anesthetic and sedation. In an intradiscal percutaneous procedure, radio waves are sent pulsing in the herniated disc’s nucleus via a catheter.

These waves eliminate bits of the disc material and leave some emptiness inside the disc. Heat from the radio waves vaporizes some liquid inside the disc, creating room in the nucleus. The herniated material – currently bulging out – moves into this available space.

Eventually, the disc wall returns to its normal shape. Once the herniation disappears, there is no more pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root. The patient should experience complete pain relief.

Most patients return home the same day of their surgery. Since the procedure is minimally invasive, the incision is much smaller than in a traditional surgery. Furthermore, there are fewer risks of side effects or complications.

Talk to a Spine Surgeon Today

If conservative treatment is ineffective, consider minimally invasive surgery to relieve your pain. For more information on intradiscal percutaneous procedures and treatment, contact an experienced Tampa Bay spine surgeon to help you make the right decision for your disc issues.