This minimally-invasive procedure uses a small needle and advanced radiofrequency technology to reduce a herniated disc. The procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis.
The patient is positioned, the neck is cleansed and sterilized, and a local anesthetic is administered. A thin tube, called a cannula, is inserted through the neck and into the herniated disc. The surgeon uses the x-ray images of a fluoroscope to help guide the cannula. A small radiofrequency probe is carefully inserted through the cannula and into the disc. The device sends pulses of radio waves to dissolve small portions of the disc nucleus. Because only enough of the disc is removed to reduce pressure inside the disc, the spine remains stable. The empty space created by the probe allows the herniation to retract. The probe and needle are removed, and the insertion area in the skin is covered with a small bandage. Because no muscles or bones are cut during the procedure, recovery is fast and scarring is minimized. Additional treatments may be needed.