Covers surgical removal of herniated disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Discusses why it may be done such as for a bulging disc, to relieve pain, or help prevent serious nerve damage. Looks at how well it works and risks.
Percutaneous Discectomy for a Lumbar Herniated Disc
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.
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.
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.