Percutaneous Lumbar Disc Decompression

Percutaneous Lumbar Disc Decompression is a minimally invasive non-surgical option to treat back and leg pain. It is designed to treat disc herniations and is indicated after traditional conservative treatment has failed.  

The Criteria for Percutaneous Lumbar Disc Decompression Includes • Failed conservative treatment, including physical therapy and epidural steroid injections.  

  • Positive provocation discography  

This is a minimally invasive procedure performed in an outpatient setting. The procedure uses a special probe that is guided into your disc through a spinal needle. The probe removes disc tissue and reduces the amount of disc material that causes nerve irritation. An x-ray is used to confirm the catheter placement in the disc. The probe is activated and rotates creating suction and removal of nucleus pulposus through the cannula. The probe and needle are removed, and you will be discharged home with specific instructions.  

Pre-Operative Preparation  

One week before the procedure:  

  • Stop all NSAID’s, aspirin, and aspirin-containing compounds. 
  • Do NOT discontinue heart, blood pressure or diabetes medications, or other medications prescribed by your physician.  

Be sure to tell your physician if:  

  • You are taking blood thinners or have a history of a bleeding disorder • You are allergic to iodine (for example, shellfish or IVP dye) 
  • You have fevers or signs of infection  

You should not eat on the day of your procedure. Small amounts of clear liquids are permitted. Arrange to have someone drive you to and from the surgical center.  

The Procedure  

An I.V. will be placed in your arm and you will be given antibiotics. After you are in position on the table, x-ray equipment will identify the disc level(s). Your lower back skin and muscle tissue will then be numbed with a local anesthetic. Your physician will place a needle into your disc under x-ray guidance. You may experience pressure during this part of the procedure. Once the needle is in the proper position, your physician may inject dye into the disc for diagnostic purposes. Patients typically do not feel any discomfort during this step. However, some patients feel pressure in their back when the catheter moves through the disc.

Percutaneous Discectomy Probe In A Lumbar Disc 

When the catheter position is confirmed by x-ray, the probe is activated, and the disc material is removed. Your physician will monitor your responses during the procedure to ensure that any discomfort you feel is well controlled. At the end of  the procedure, a bandage will be placed on your back, and you will rest in a  recovery area until you are ready to go home. 

Post-Operative Management  

In the first three days after your procedure (the immediate postoperative period), you may experience a moderate increase in your normal back pain. Rest, ice, pain medication, and anti-inflammatories will minimize possible discomfort during this time. Any unusual or new symptoms (i.e., fever, chills, rash, increased numbness, or weakness) should be reported to your physician. Do not expect your usual pre-procedure symptoms to immediately disappear. You should not exert yourself during this time, even if you experience a marked reduction in your usual pre-procedure pain. No housework, lifting, or bending should be done. After the first week, short walks (15 to 20 minutes) are okay. You should discuss with your physician your plan to return to work. If your work is sedentary, you can typically return within a week after the procedure. A follow-up appointment will be made with your physician for additional treatment recommendations. For the few weeks following the procedure as your disc(s) heal, you should begin to feel a reduction in pain. However, pain reduction may occur over 3 months. During the first month, you must treat your back carefully. Restrict bending twisting or heavy lifting. You may resume back exercises under your physician’s guidance. Anti-inflammatory medications and/or pain medication may be prescribed if needed to control discomfort associated with your normal back pain. Icing 1-2 times per day (10-15  minutes) is advisable to reduce any low back discomfort.  

Rehabilitation Exercises and Therapy  

Your physician will guide you regarding rehabilitation exercises after your procedure. Formal physical therapy usually begins within 2-4 weeks post-op. Your physician will help you advance your exercise program to improve your strength and flexibility. Your physician may allow you to resume sporting activity 3-4  months after the procedure and may allow you to resume traveling for work or pleasure during this time as well.