Nucleoplasty therapy is a recently developed technique for the treatment of pain coming from a spinal disc. A special probe is inserted into the spinal disc and is used to remove a small amount of disc tissue from the disc nucleus and then to applied controlled thermal energy or heat to the disc. This causes the pressure within the disc wall to decrease and allows the disc to bulge or protrude less.
Nucleoplasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. It is performed under sterile conditions. The patient lies face down on an x-ray table. Local anesthesia and mild sedation will be used to make the patient more comfortable during the procedure. Using x-ray guidance, an introducer needle is inserted into the sidewall of the disc. Then the nucleoplasty device is passed through the needle and positioned in the internal portion of the disc under x-ray guidance. Once in proper position, the device is used to cut a small portion of disc material out of the center of the disc and then heat the tissue immediately around the area where tissue has just been removed. When done, the device and needle are removed and an adhesive bandage is placed over the needle insertion site.
Local anesthesia and mild sedation will be used to make the patient more comfortable during the procedure. There is often mild pain and some pressure when the introducer needle is passed through the tissues and into the sidewall of the disc. During the actual cutting and heating, the patient might feel some mild reproduction his or her usual lower back or leg pain. This should not be severe pain. This can be a sign that the nucleoplasty is being done in the correct area.