Decompressing the nucleus of the disc is a proven technique for relieving disc herniation and for treating the pain symptoms it causes. Similar to letting air out of a bicycle tire, removing tissue from the center of a disc causes a reduction of pressure within the disc. This, in turn, leads to a reduction in the pressure that the disc applies to other parts of the body, such as nerve roots or the spinal cord.
To perform percutaneous disc compression, also referred to as nucleoplasty, a micro-engineered alloy transmitter is inserted into the disc while the patient is awake. This requires only a topical anesthetic and light sedation. Radio wave signals are sent through the transmitter into the jelly-like nucleus of the herniated disc. These radio waves produce a low-temperature ionized gas that breaks up molecular bonds in the spongy nucleus, removing tissue volume.
Normally, the entire procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes. The patient is ready to walk out of the clinic in about an hour, with no hospital stay required. Disc decompression is a minimally-invasive alternative to open surgery and is designed to offer a fast-acting option to drug therapies and steroid injections.
Some forms of disc decompression are performed through a minimally-invasive catheter or needle. This type of procedure performed through the skin, or percutaneously, minimizes trauma to the patient and allows for faster recovery than traditional open surgical techniques.