What is an annuloplasty procedure?

Annuloplasty is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that treats the annulus, the outer covering of the disc without surgery. This procedure is suitable for those who have not had much success with other conservative treatment such as medication and physiotherapy and do not wish to undergo open surgery which carries a higher risk. Patients are able to go home the same day of the procedure and many can go back to work the next day if they want to.

Who are good candidates for the procedure?

Patients who have a torn or fissured annulus and who do not wish to undergo open surgery or have fusion or other treatments done are good candidates for the procedure. 

What is the success rate of annuloplasty?

In properly selected patients, the success rate can be as high as 80-90%. Patients must comply with avoidance of vigorous and strenuous exercise and should be willing to undergo physical therapy and avoid heavy lifting, bending and prolonged sitting.

What happens during the procedure?

Under sedation to make you comfortable, a small needle is placed under X-ray guidance to the affected part of the disc. Thermal heat is delivered to the disc using radiofrequency, plasma or laser energy. The heat causes the collagen fibers that are damaged and torn to be cauterized, resulting in a sealing of the tears and reducing symptoms of pain from the injury. There may be some pain in the initial stages which is controlled by medications.

What are the risks of the procedure?

There can be an increase in pain, and a small chance of bleeding and infection. Serious complications are fortunately very rare.