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What Is a Percutaneous Discectomy and Why Is It Performed?

What Is a Percutaneous Discectomy and Why Is It Performed?A minimally invasive treatment for herniated discs that have not responded to more conservative options, a percutaneous discectomy involves removing soft tissue material surrounding damaged discs responsible for back pain and inflammation. Studies investigating success rates of percutaneous discectomy have found that eight of 10 patients undergoing this procedure experienced significant relief from pain and inflammation.

Overview of Percutaneous Discectomy

Several types of percutaneous discectomies exist but all involve a surgeon inserting small instruments into the center of discs to remove tissue and eliminate nerve compression. Nearly all percutaneous discectomies are performed as out-patient surgeries using general or local anesthesia.

During surgery, doctors utilize x-rays to guide movements of medical instruments. Disc tissue is removed by cutting out the tissue, sucking out the disc's center material or employing lasers to degrade and destroy disc material.

Who are Good Candidates for a Percutaneous Discectomy?

If you have been diagnosed with a herniated or bulging disc and the disc has not ruptured into the spine's canal, you might consider a percutaneous discectomy if conservative treatments have failed to reduce back pain and pain is bad enough to interfere with working or doing your normal daily activities.

Having a percutaneous discectomy should not be done if you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis or have MRI or CT scans showing disc material has infiltrated the spinal canal.

What to Expect After a Percutaneous Discectomy

Nearly all patients will go home to recover the same day they have the procedure performed. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to reduce discomfort during your recovery. For about a month or two after surgery, patients should avoid lifting, twisting unnaturally, bending or sitting for extended periods. Side effects or complications from a percutaneous discectomy are minimal and involve soreness, slight swelling, and redness around the procedure site.

Causes and Symptoms of a Herniated/Bulging Disc

Most herniated discs emerge in the lower (lumbar) part of your back. However, you can suffer herniated discs in the neck or upper part of the spine. Common signs of a herniated disc include:

  • Numbness and tingling in various areas of the body where affected nerves extend into an innervate
  • Leg and/or arm pain, with the most severe pain felt in the buttocks, calves and thighs
  • Muscle weakness due to nerve compression by herniated discs. Damaged nerves connected to muscles will naturally impair muscle health and cause loss of strength in affected muscles

Aging is the reason for most disc herniations as simple wear-and-tear of the discs reduce flexibility and fluid content of discs. This means discs become thinner, more rigid and prone to bulging or rupturing. Other factors like genetics and occupation also increase the risk of disc herniation. People with jobs involving rigorous physical activity and athletes are more likely to be diagnosed with a herniated disc than people who have less physical jobs. Engaging in repetitive pushing and pulling actions on a daily basis could also increase your risk for disc problems.

If you have a herniated disc that is not responding to traditional treatments, call the Southern Pain Clinic today to schedule a consultation appointment regarding a percutaneous discectomy. We are conveniently located in Marrero, Metairie and Covington, LA.

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