Percutaneous Nucleotomy

A Percutaneous Nucleotomy is a minimally invasive procedure involving the removal of the inner material of a bulging or herniated disc that has compressed a nerve root or the spinal cord. A bulging or herniated disc occurs mainly due to age, but a variety of injuries can lead to the conditions as well.


With age the normally spongy cartilage discs between the vertebrae begin to dehydrate. This loss of water begins to weaken the usually fibrous outer layer of the disc, called the annulus fibrosus. The nucleus pulposus is the jelly-like material found in the center of the disc. The inner material can push outward as the outer wall continues to break down, which can cause a bulge in the wall, hernia or a rupture in the wall that allows disc material to escape. Pain, tingling, weakness and numbness may develop if the disc compresses on the spinal cord or one of its nerve roots.

How is Percutaneous Nucleotomy performed?

The objective of Percutaneous Nucleotomy is to reduce the prolapsed part of the nucleus pulposus enough so that the pressure on the nerve root is released. The procedure begins with the insertion of a needle into the damaged disc and a suction device is inserted into the disc.


It is used to remove a portion of the nucleus pulposus, releasing the pressure off the nerve root and thus relieving the pain. Mostly, Percutaneous Nucleotomy is performed on an outpatient basis, which means that the patient returns home after completion of the procedure. It will probably be carried out under local anesthesia and sedation. The scar left will be actually very small.


With Percutaneous Nucleotomy, the patient’s quality of life improves over the few days following surgery, and a considerable relief of pain is already felt on the day of the procedure. However in few cases, additional therapy may be recommended.

Is Percutaneous Nucleotomy for me?

Percutaneous Nucleotomy is recommended only if conservative treatments such as bed rest, pain medications, exercise and physical therapy have not helped alleviate symptoms. The procedure mainly has the purpose to relieve pressure from the afflicted nerve root or spinal cord.