A Percutaneous Laser Discoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure designed to remove a herniated disc or bulging disc material that presses on a root nerve as it exits your spinal cord. You may be a candidate for this procedure if you have a herniated or bulging disc and the disc material has not ruptured into your spinal canal.
In this minimally invasive procedure, your doctor uses a small needle and advanced laser technology to reduce a herniated disc. Refer to the top left illustration. A Percutaneous Laser Discoplasty quickly relieves pain in most patients.
The procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis using a gentle, relaxing medicine and local anesthetic. The technique is described below. Talk to your doctor about your risks and recovery expectations.
1. Inserting the Cannula
After your doctor injects an anesthetic to numb the skin over the area, he inserts a thin needle called a cannula into the spot and into the herniated disc. He uses a fluoroscope, which displays live X-ray images, to guide the placement of the cannula. See illustration 1.
2. Treating the Disc Nucleus
As shown in illustration 2, the surgeon inserts a small laser probe through the cannula and into the disc. The probe emits pulses of laser light into the problem area of the disc.
3. Relieving the Herniation
The laser light creates enough heat to shrink the disc wall area. You may feel some pain during the procedure, which is an indication that your doctor is applying the treatment to the appropriate area. See illustration 3.
4. Recovering from the Procedure
After your physician removes the probe and the needle, he covers the insertion area in the skin with a small bandage. Because no muscles or bone were cut during the procedure, recovery is fast and scarring is minimal.
You may need a day of bed rest after the procedure, and then some physical therapy. You usually can return to your normal daily activities within one to six weeks.