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Nucleoplasty

Nucleoplasty is a treatment option for people suffering prolonged and severe back pain resulting from a disc herniation (bulge) that did not respond to conventional treatment. Nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive alternative for treating the disc bulge. Performed in an outpatient setting, this procedure uses a needle that emits radio waves to shrink a disc bulge by dissolving excess tissue. This relieves the pressure inside the disc and on the nerves responsible for causing pain. The procedure should take less than one hour.

Procedure Preparation

This procedure will be done in a hospital setting. After your initial consultation in our office, you will set up an appointment with our staff for a local surgical center or hospital.

Please bring any previous imaging study results (MRI, CT, x-rays) such as films, reports, or CD-ROMs to your initial visit. If you do not have current images, we may refer you to have studies done prior to the procedure.

You will receive specific instructions to follow prior to the procedure with regard to eating and drinking.

You will need someone to drive you home and stay with you for 12 hours post-procedure due to the effects of sedation medications. Please make any necessary arrangements.

Please notify our physician if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

Please be prepared to discuss any medications that you are currently on with our physician, or bring your medication bottles with you to your initial appointment.

During the Procedure

Nucleoplasty is an advanced injection procedure that is performed in a local hospital with our staff.

You will be awake during the procedure to provide important feedback to the physician, but you will be under a sedative to diminish your anxiety and any discomfort.

After you are in position on the table, your lower back will be numbed with a local anesthetic.

Under x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy), a small, tube-like needle is placed into the center of your bulged disc.

A small, specialized wand is inserted through the needle, where it is heated to create a series of channels within the disc by dissolving tissue.

By reducing the amount of excess tissue within the disc, this treatment can reduce the size of the bulge and also relieve pressure inside the disc, as well as on the adjacent nerves.

The wand will then be slowly withdrawn to its original position while thermally sealing the new channel.

You will be closely monitored during your procedure.

The number of channels created is dependent on the disc size. At the end of the procedure, the wand and needle will be removed.

After the Procedure

A small bandage will be placed over the needle insertion site and you will be taken to the recovery area until you are ready to go home.

Adult supervision is necessary for the remainder of the day due to the effects of sedation.

You will receive general activity and rehabilitation guidelines.

You may experience increased symptoms for 7-10 days until the disc begins to heal.

Prescription medications may be given to relieve these symptoms.

Possible side effects

Complications are rare, but we encourage you to keep track of any symptoms you experience after the procedure and report them to your physician at your follow up visit 7-14 days after the procedure.

A full course of physical therapy will help you to fully recover, strengthen your back and core muscles, and maximize your recovery.