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Cervical, Dorsal or Lumbar Nucleoplasty

The intervertebral or spinal disc is a flexible structure that acts as a shock absorber for the vertebrae, allowing some slight movement and acting as a ligament to hold the vertabrae together. 

When the discs become damaged for some reason (degeneration, trauma or others), part of the disc may bulge out slightly or moderately towards the spinal canal, displacing nerve roots and causing radiating pain (sciatica), or loss of sensitivity. It can also produce discogenic pain (one of the causes of lower back pain) due to the substances from the inflammation of the disc. 

Nucleoplasty is minor operation performed under light or percutaneous sedation to cauterise parts inside the disc which gives dual benefits:  A retractile scar forms that reduces pressure on the compressed nerve and destroys the nerve endings in the disc ring which transmit the discogenic pain.

Benefits of the Operation

Nerve root decompression relieves the pain slowly and progressively, because the internal scar takes several days-weeks to retract the herniated material. It can take some time to recover feeling. Sometimes numbness is left as a sequela, depending on the level of damage. 

The purpose of nucleoplasty is to decompress a nerve structure. It does not restore the integrity of the spinal column, which is why it is important to compensate for the loss of a disc by starting to strengthen the muscles two months after surgery.

Medical-technical description

Nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that works by heating and cauterising part of the inside of the disc. This reduces the amount of material in the disc, so that the bulging part of the disc will recede into the normal disc space.

About the operation

Nucleoplasty takes place in the operating theatre. The patient lies face down (lower back nucleoplasty) or face up (cervical nucleoplasty) and is slightly sedated. The needle is inserted under local anaesthetic with the help of X-rays to locate the disc. 

This operation usually takes 20 minutes. Patients need not be admitted to hospital, although they are kept under observation for one hour.

Before the operation

  • The patient goes to the doctor's office for a prior consultation, when decisions are taken and the doctor explains the surgery in detail and gives the patient an informed consent.
  • The patient has a complete preoperative study with laboratory tests, ECG and x-rays.
  • Do not drink alcohol or smoke for 48 hours before the procedure.
  • If you are to have your surgery in the morning, you must not eat or drink anything that morning. If the surgery is to take place in the afternoon, have an early breakfast then do not eat or drink anything after 9 am.
  • You must remove all metal objects during the operation (rings, bracelets, earrings, body piercings, etc.).

Post-operative care

  • After you have been released you must avoid a series of movements and positions for 10 days:
    • Lifting weights
    • Difficult positions for the spine
    • Housework
    • Walking: You can walk after the operation, but for no more than 15 minutes continuously during the first week. Then you can lead a normal life.
  • You need not wear a corset after this surgery, but you can wear an ordinary corset if this makes you more comfortable for a few days.
  • After you have been released you must contact us if you have fever or shivering.

Post-operative care (cervical (neck) nucleoplasty)

  • Lead a completely normal life
  • After you have been released you must contact us if you have fever or shivering.

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