What is a nucleoplasty?

Nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive spinal decompression surgery that utilises radiofrequency and X-ray images to treat certain spinal conditions. This procedure offers a less invasive alternative to traditional open surgery and aims to reduce pain and other symptoms caused by these conditions.

This technique often results in a shorter recovery and fewer complications than traditional open surgery. However, the suitability of nucleoplasty as a treatment option depends on your specific diagnosis and the condition of your spine, which your neurosurgeon will evaluate.

Nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive surgery to treat certain spinal conditions.

How does a nucleoplasty work?

During a nucleoplasty, a specially designed device is used to remove or modify a portion of the nucleus pulposus, the inner portion of a spinal disc. This aims to reduce pressure on nerves or the spinal cord, alleviating pain and other symptoms associated with conditions such as sciatica or radiculopathy.

The procedure typically involves the following steps:

  1. Localisation: using imaging guidance, your neurosurgeon locates the affected disc in your spine.
  2. Needle insertion: a thin needle or catheter is inserted into the disc.
  3. Radiofrequency energy: once the needle is in position, radiofrequency energy is applied to either dissolve or remove a portion of the disc material.
  4. Decompression: removing or modifying the disc material reduces pressure on your nerves, relieving pain and other symptoms.

Benefits of a nucleoplasty

  • Minimally invasive
  • Reduced recovery time
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Preservation of spinal stability
  • Effective pain relief
  • Outpatient procedure
  • Avoidance of general anaesthesia
  • Minimal scarring
  • Alternative to surgery

What conditions can a nucleoplasty treat?

A nucleoplasty can be used to treat the following conditions: 

  • Herniated disc: also known as slipped discs, this condition displays symptoms such as pain that radiates from the back and down the legs, numbness, muscle weakness, and even incontinence.
  • Sciatica: often linked to a herniated or slipped disc, sciatica is characterised by pain that radiates from the lower back and down the leg of the affected side.
  • Spinal stenosis: spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the spinal nerve, causing pain in the lower back. A spinal stenosis can also be treated with a spinal laminectomy.
  • Discogenic pain: discogenic pain, often related to the degeneration of intervertebral discs, can cause instability and inflammation.

Most of these conditions are related to chronic back pain, tingling or numbness in the extremities, or muscle weakness. If you have any of the conditions listed above, make an appointment with Chou Neuroscience Clinic for customised treatment.

A nucleoplasty removes or dissolves a portion of the herniated disc.

What results can I expect from a nucleoplasty?

The results you can expect from nucleoplasty vary depending on your condition and the severity of your symptoms.

nucleoplasty slipped disc
A nucleoplasty can treat a herniated or slipped disc.

Some general expectations from nucleoplasty include:

  • Pain reduction: reduces or eliminates pain associated with conditions such as herniated discs and sciatica. Many individuals experience significant pain relief following this procedure.
  • Improved mobility: as the pain subsides, you may have improved mobility and range of motion.
  • Reduced medication dependency: with successful nucleoplasty, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for pain medications.
  • Quicker recovery: a minimally invasive procedure such as this can often result in a faster recovery than traditional open surgery. Most patients typically return to their regular activities sooner.
  • Long-term benefits: it addresses the underlying issues contributing to your pain, potentially preventing the need for more invasive surgeries in the future.
  • Patient-specific outcomes: outcomes can vary. Your neurosurgeon will discuss realistic expectations based on your unique situation.

How many nucleoplasty sessions are needed?

The number of nucleoplasty sessions you need depends on your condition and how well you respond to the initial treatment. In most cases, substantial relief from pain and other symptoms can be achieved after a single nucleoplasty session. However, some individuals with more complex or severe conditions may require additional sessions.

Your neurosurgeon will assess your progress after the initial procedure. This includes considering factors such as the extent of your disc damage, the location of the affected discs, and the severity of your symptoms. If you continue to experience significant pain or have remaining issues to address, you may require additional nucleoplasty sessions.

Maintaining open communication with your neurosurgeon throughout the treatment process is essential, especially when monitoring your progress and adjusting the treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome(s).

With this understood, the number of sessions required will be based on your individual response to treatment, pain management, and symptom relief goals.

Frequently asked questions  

Are there any risks associated with nucleoplasty?

Yes, nucleoplasty carries some risks, as with any medical procedure. These may include infection, bleeding, or nerve injury. Discussing these potential risks with your doctor is important to make an informed decision about your treatment before the procedure.

Is nucleoplasty suitable for everyone with spinal disc issues?

Nucleoplasty may not be a suitable treatment option for everyone. Your neurosurgeon must evaluate your condition and medical history to determine your suitability for nucleoplasty.

Is nucleoplasty a one-time procedure?

For most patients, nucleoplasty is usually a single-session procedure. However, the need for additional session vary depending on individual factors and how well you respond to the initial treatment.

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Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved