Study design: Intradiscal pressure was measured after percutaneous disc decompression by nucleoplasty in human cadavers with different degrees of disc degeneration.
Objectives: To assess intradiscal pressure change after disc decompression, and to analyze the influence of degeneration on the intradiscal pressure change.
Summary of background data: Partial removal of the nucleus has been shown to decompress herniated discs, relieving pressure on nerve roots and, in some cases, offering relief from disc pain. Nucleoplasty, a new minimally invasive procedure using patented Coblation technology, combines coagulation and ablation for partial removal of the nucleus. Coblated channels remove the tissue volume and may decrease the disc pressure.
Methods: Three fresh human cadaver spinal specimens (T8-L5; age, 54-84 years; mean age, 70.7 years) were used in this investigation. The intradiscal pressure was measured at three points: before treatment, after each channel was created, and after treatment using a 25-guage 6-inch needle connected to a Merit Medical Systems Intellisystem Inflation Monitor. The needles were calibrated initially to approximately 30 pounds per square inch. For the control, the change in disc pressure was recorded by the same procedure without using Coblation energy. To evaluate the effectiveness of nucleoplasty, disc pressure changes were compared between treatment with and without Coblation energy.
Results: Intradiscal pressure was markedly reduced in the younger, healthy disc cadaver. In the older, degenerative disc cadavers, the change in intradiscal pressure after nucleoplasty was very small. There was an inverse correlation between the degree of disc degeneration and the change in intradiscal pressure.
Conclusions: Pressure reduction through nucleoplasty is highly dependent on the degree of spine degeneration. Nucleoplasty markedly reduced intradiscal pressure in nondegenerative discs, but had a negligible effect on highly degenerative discs.