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Percutaneous Laser Discectomy

At a Glance

I took the first available appointment and had the surgery. When I woke up the pain was gone from my leg. I am here to tell you that today I am pain free and out playing tennis with the guys.

Roger Benjamin
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  • This minimally invasive procedure is performed in the lumbar spine for a type of herniated disc known as a contained herniation.
  • It is most effective with younger patients up to 50 years of age where significant degeneration of the disc has not occurred and the disc material is still in the disc space.
  • Percutaneous Nucleoplasty Coblation is a similar procedure.
  • Percutaneous Laser Discectomy and Percutaneous Nucleoplasty Coblation treat Herniated Intervertebral Disc.


There are four types of Disc Herniation: a disc bulge, a protruded or contained herniation, an extruded disc herniation, and a sequestered disc herniation (in order of severity). With a disc bulge and contained herniation, the outer walls or rings of the disc are still intact and the herniation is in contact with the inner nucleus of the disc where it normally belongs.

When this occurs, there is a good chance that the herniated part of the disc can be removed from inside the disc by performing a percutaneous discectomy – meaning a tiny surgical probe rather than a scalpel is used to remove part of a disc, thus avoiding an open surgery in which inner tissue is exposed.

In a percutaneous laser discectomy, the surgeon makes a small puncture in the patient’s back near the disc and then inserts a laser probe into the disc space. He then uses the laser to vaporize the herniated part.

Similarly, a percutaneous nucleoplasty coblation procedure uses radio waves and a liquid medium to create a means to remove tissue at a temperature much lower than a laser. It is very precise and only minimally affects normal surrounding tissue, making it safe and more appealing to many surgeons and patients.

Both the percutaneous laser discectomy and the percutaneous nucleoplasty coblation require fluoroscopy, or television x-ray, to make sure the probe is at the proper level and location. Either procedure is performed outpatient under local anesthesia with some minor sedation.