Login - or - Learn
Contact Us     Maps & Directions     About Us
Find a Provider
Your Medical Home
Find a Facility
Plan Your Visit
Find a Provider
Giving
Mother Frances Hospital
Heart Hospital
Neuroscience Institute
Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Search Health Information    Percutaneous Discectomy for a Lumbar Herniated Disc

Percutaneous Discectomy for a Lumbar Herniated Disc

Surgery Overview

Percutaneous means "through the skin" or using a very small cut. Discectomy is surgery to remove herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or on the spinal cord .

There are many different kinds of percutaneous discectomy procedures. All of them use small instruments that are inserted between the vertebrae and into the middle of the disc . Most of the time they are done in a surgery center using local or general anesthesia .

X-rays help guide the movement of the instruments during surgery. The surgeon can remove disc tissue by either:

  • Cutting it out.
  • Sucking out the center of the disc.
  • Using lasers to burn or destroy the disc.

What To Expect After Surgery

You can expect to go home on the same day you have the procedure.

You can use prescription medicine to control pain while you recover.

For several weeks after surgery, you'll need to avoid long periods of sitting and avoid bending, twisting, and lifting.

Why It Is Done

Lumbar (low back) percutaneous discectomy may be done if:

  • Your medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests (such as MRI , CT scan , or myelogram ) show that the disc is bulging , and the material inside the disc hasn't ruptured into the spinal canal.
  • Pain and nerve damage have not improved after 4 or more weeks of nonsurgical treatment.
  • Your symptoms are very bad and get in the way of doing normal activities.
  • There are signs of serious nerve damage in your leg that may be getting worse. These signs include severe weakness, loss of coordination, or loss of feeling.
Click here to view a Decision Point. Lumbar Herniated Disc: Should I Have Surgery?

It should not be done if you have:

  • Pieces of disc material in the spinal canal (as seen on a CT scan or MRI).
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis).

How Well It Works

Although surgery for a lumbar herniated disc doesn't work for everyone, it works well for many people. Regular discectomy works a little better than percutaneous discectomy. 1

Risks

During a percutaneous discectomy, the surgeon has no way of seeing the herniated disc or the pinched nerve .

The surgery might not remove the disc tissue. So there is no guarantee that pressure on the nerve will improve.

There are risks with anesthesia.

What To Think About

More research needs to be done to compare this surgery to other types of discectomy and to nonsurgical treatment.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

References

Citations

  1. Hu SS, et al. (2006). Disorders, diseases, and injuries of the spine. In HB Skinner, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Orthopedics, 4th ed., pp. 221–297. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Current as of June 4, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

 
Trinity Clinic

Trinity Clinic is the area's preferred multispecialty medical group, with over 350 physicians and mid-level providers representing 40 specialties in 36 clinic locations serving East Texas.

Find a Trinity Clinic ProviderMedical Providers Directory  About Trinity Clinic MyChart

TMFHC app on iTunes

TMFHC app on Android Market