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Laser Spine Surgery for Herniated Disc

When the conservative methods of herniated disc treatment don’t help your pain, you might be ready to try minimally-invasive laser spine surgery, or PLDD. PLDD is the laser-assisted, minimally invasive procedure designed to treat back pain caused by a herniated disc.

When a vertebrae-cushioning disc shifts, material from it can interfere with the spinal canal and their exiting nerves, resulting in severe pain. Deflating or decompressing the disc will cause the bulge to recede, resulting in the reduction or loss of pain. The laser used in PLDD is the tool that can provide this decompression.

Understanding PLDD

Laser spine surgery was pioneered in 1986. This advanced herniated disc treatment is a remarkably simple hour procedure, and is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. Using x-ray guidance, the doctor inserts a slender needle into the herniated disc. The insertion of an optical fiber into the needle allows for laser energy to travel to its tip and vaporize a small part of the disc’s center. This retracts the bulge from the spinal column or nerve root and subsequently relieves the pain.

What to expect

Most patients notice immediate pain relief, and leave the office with just a single inconspicuous bandage. Patients are then required to rest in bed for 12-24 hours, after which they should gradually begin walking, working towards a length of one mile. Most patients with sedentary jobs are able to return to work within 4 or 5 days of surgery.

The short recovery time involved with PLDD is one of its many positive aspects, as is its lack of side effects. First of all, the thin needle makes this a minimally invasive procedure and leaves no scarring. There also is no risk of damage to other parts of the spinal cord, since just a small portion of the disc is vaporized. Also, traditional open disc surgeries carry potential complications, since they can involve damage to the back muscle, bone removal, and a large scar-producing incision, which by itself is a source of pain. None of this occurs with laser spine surgery.

Main indications for laser spine surgery (PLDD) procedure are:

  • Severe leg, arm, neck or lower back pain.
  • Pain that has not responded to six weeks of conservative treatments, e.g., bed rest, medications or physical therapy.
  • Herniated lumbar discs confirmed by imaging studies like MRI, CT or discography.

Advantages of laser spine surgery include:

  • Minimally invasive
  • No cutting
  • No scarring
  • No general anesthesia
  • No hospital stay
  • Short recovery period
  • Costs 50% less than traditional surgery

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