FAQs on Nucleoplasty in Colorado
Nucleoplasty is a percutaneous procedure that involves insertion of a tiny catheter inot the intervertebral disc. The purpose of nucleoplasty is to disintegrate and remove disc material that causes nerve irritation. The nucleoplasty procedure does not require an incision and is minimally-invasive.
Who needs a nucleoplasty?
The nucleoplasty procedure is used for patients with:
- Nerve root irritation due to small disc bulges or ruptures
- Discogenic low back pain from degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar disc bulges that causes radiculopathy
How will I know if the nucleoplasty is right for me?
Undergoing disc or spine surgery is a major step. The minimally-invasive nucleoplasty procedure is used before having open back surgery. This less invasive technique has a high satisfaction rate and a shorter recover timey than traditional surgery. The procedure is considered for people who are in relatively good health, who have pain related to disc problems, and who are willing to delay surgical intervention.
What happens before the procedure?
You first meet with the pain management specialist to discuss your back problem. After a physical exam and medical history, the doctor may wish to obtain imaging studies of your spine. Be sure to tell the doctor about all medicines you take, as certain agents that thin the blood are to be held for a few days.
You cannot eat or drink for 8 hours before your appointment, and should arrange to have someone drive you home. When you arrive at the medical center, a nurse has you fill out paperwork, and you must change into a procedure gown. Monitoring devices are attached to your arms, and the nurse places an intravenous catheter in your hand.
How is the nucleoplasty procedure done?
Nucleoplasty is done as an outpatient procedure. Mild sedation is used to relieve anxiety and reduce discomfort. After being positioned face-down on the procedure table, the nurse cleans the skin with antimicrobial solution, and the doctor numbs the area with a local anesthetic. Using real-time x-ray, the procedure needle is inserted into the affected disc. A special catheter is introduced through the needle. The doctor uses a plasma field to disintegrate the disc material. The thermal treatment creates channels in the disc, which reduces pressure.
How does the nucleoplasty procedure feel?
The procedure only takes around 45 minutes, and you are in a groggy state. You may feel a slight burning when the skin is numbed, and pressure is felt when the needle goes into the disc. After your procedure, some patients report soreness and tenderness over the injection site. We advise you to use an ice pack for 20-minute intervals.
What medications are used during the nucleoplasty?
The solutions and medicines used include:
- Bupivacaine or lidocaine – Local anesthetics
- Betadine – Antiseptic agent
- Triamcinolone or betamethasone – Corticosteroid agents
What can I expect after the nucleoplasty procedure?
After the procedure, a nurse monitors you for around 45-75 minutes in the recovery area. You cannot lift or perform rigorous activities for 2-4 days, and should rest for a couple of days. You are permitted to move about the home doing your usual activities, such as going to the bathroom.
Is the nucleoplasty beneficial?
In a procedure involving patients with chronic disc herniations and radicular leg pain, researchers evaluated the efficacy of nucleoplasty and patient satisfaction at 1,6, 12, and 24 months. According to the report, the success rate was 66%, with patient reporting good or excellent satisfaction. Regarding pain scores, the efficacy rate was 88%, with many patients enjoying long-term pain relief.
Karaman H, Tufek A, Kavak GO, et al. (2011). Effectiveness of nucleoplasty applied for chronic radicular pain. Med Sci Monit, 17(8), 460-465.