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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:
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.
Lumbar (low back) percutaneous discectomy may be done if:
It should not be done if you have:
Although surgery for a lumbar herniated disc doesn't work for everyone, it works well for many people. Regular discectomy works a little better than percutaneous discectomy.1
During a percutaneous discectomy, the surgeon has no way of seeing the herniated disc or the pinched nerve.
The surgery might not remove the disc tissue. So there is no guarantee that pressure on the nerve will improve.
There are risks with anesthesia.
More research needs to be done to compare this surgery to other types of discectomy and to nonsurgical treatment.
Last Revised: March 12, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
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