What is nucleoplasty?
A pain specialist performs nucleoplasty to treat disc bulges and herniations. It reduces the pressure within the disc caused by a contained slipped disc. In select patients, this will help them have good and effective pain relief without needing open surgery. We remove a small about of disc through the skin with a special device. This relieves pressure on the nerves during the procedure which takes less than an hour. Consider doing nucleoplasty Singapore with us to relieve your neck or back pain.
How is nucleoplasty performed?
You will be asleep but not under general anaesthesia, reducing the risks involved. We apply numbing medicine to the skin, after which we place a specialised needle into the disc under X-ray. We use laser or plasma energy to remove tissue in the disc. This creates a vacuum suction effect that may shrink the disc.
This reduces pressure on the nerves and spinal cord, leading to improvement in sciatica and neck/back pain. Nucleoplasty also deactivates the pain receptors in the disc. I usually do the procedure as day surgery and it is very safe with a very low risk of complications.
Who benefits from a nucleoplasty procedure?
Patients with neck or back pain with or without shooting pain down the arm or legs. There should be evidence of disc herniation or disc bulges with compression of the spinal cord or the nerve roots on the MRI.
What is the success rate, and how long can it last?
The procedure can be very effective in alleviating pain and suffering. 70% of patients who undergo nucleoplasty get at least a 50% reduction in their pain severity. The pain relief can be permanent and can last for many years if a herniated disc or a disc bulge causes their pain. In some patients, there can be normal ageing with wear and tear. The disc can then bulge out again at the same level or at other levels at which point another nucleoplasty procedure may be needed. Pain can also arise because of other causes other than the disc, including the facet joints and the back muscles.
How much does nucleoplasty cost?
Costs vary from country to country but in Singapore, the surgical fees for nucleoplasty are around $5000 SGD and up before facilities, equipment and other charges.
Is a nucleoplasty procedure safe? Are there side effects?
Nucleoplasty is very safe, with no risk of paralysis if done by an expert. There is a very low risk (<1%) of bleeding, infection and nerve damage as it is done under X-ray guidance. It is generally safer than open surgery as it does not involve cutting body tissues or general anaesthesia.
How long will it be before I am back to my normal activities?
We commonly perform nucleoplasty as day surgery which means that many people can go back to work the next day if they wish to do so. Most commonly, however, you will be given hospitalisation leave for about two weeks to recover at home. We will work with a good physiotherapist to guide you to engage in exercises to build up muscle strength to offload the disc and spine.
After the procedure, you may feel soreness which usually resolves over the next 2 weeks The pain relief from your usual pain can be immediate or gradually improve over the next 2-3 weeks.