Percutaneous laser disc decompression (PLDD)

Percutaneous laser disc decompression (PLDD) is a minimally invasive medical procedure used to treat certain spinal conditions, particularly those involving herniated discs that are causing nerve compression and associated pain. The procedure aims to reduce pressure on the spinal nerves by using laser energy to shrink and vaporize a portion of the herniated disc material.

Here's how percutaneous laser disc decompression works:

  1. Patient Evaluation: Candidates for PLDD are individuals with herniated discs, also known as disc protrusions or bulges, that are causing symptoms such as pain, numbness, and weakness due to nerve compression. Imaging studies like MRI scans help pinpoint the location and nature of the herniation.

  2. Local Anesthesia: The patient is positioned on an X-ray table, often lying face down. The skin over the targeted area is cleaned and numbed using a local anesthetic.

  3. Needle Placement: Under the guidance of X-ray fluoroscopy, a thin needle is inserted through the skin and guided into the center of the herniated disc.

  4. Laser Insertion: A thin fiber-optic laser probe is threaded through the needle and advanced into the disc. The laser emits concentrated energy that heats and vaporizes a small portion of the disc material.

  5. Vaporization of Disc Material: The laser energy creates a small channel within the disc and causes the gel-like inner disc material to shrink, relieving pressure on the spinal nerves.

  6. Observation and Recovery: The procedure is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, and the patient is observed for a short period before being discharged. Most patients can return home the same day and gradually resume normal activities as guided by their healthcare provider.

Benefits of percutaneous laser disc decompression include:

  • Minimally Invasive: PLDD is a minimally invasive procedure that requires only small incisions and avoids the need for large surgical openings.

  • Reduced Tissue Damage: The procedure minimizes disruption to surrounding tissues, leading to less postoperative pain and a quicker recovery.

  • Preservation of Disc: Unlike some other procedures, PLDD aims to preserve the structural integrity of the disc rather than removing it.

  • Faster Recovery: Many patients experience a faster return to daily activities compared to traditional open surgery.

It's important to note that not all herniated discs are suitable for PLDD. The procedure is most effective for specific types and locations of disc herniations. The decision to undergo PLDD should be made after thorough evaluation and consultation with a healthcare provider who can determine if the procedure is appropriate for the patient's specific condition.

Spine Physicians Institute treats back pain, neck pain, herniated discs, stenosis and other spine problems. Patients come to the spine center from across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Dr. Sethuraman is one of few Mayo Clinic fellowship-trained spine surgeons in the North Texas area. A fellowship is the highest level of medical education in the U.S.

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