Last updated: May 22, 2020

What is Percutaneous Decompression?

The Percutaneous Disc Decompression procedure is used in patients who are suffering from pain, numbness or disability resulting from a bulging or herniated lumbar disk. Most often, these patients are presenting with pain in the lower back, which may be radiating into either leg and foot, or both, and is often associated with numbness. It is indicated in certain patients with low back pain only, after further diagnostic testing. Patients with specific pathology and signs and symptoms may qualify for this procedure.

Procedure Details

The procedure is done through a needle that is placed into the herniated disc after numbing the skin.  Real time X-ray Flouroscopy  is used to properly locate the needle tip inside the abnormal disk.  A wand is placed through the needle, to generate radio waves that dissolve excess disk tissue, reducing the size of the disk. By using this minimal invasive procedure a small portion of the nucleus is removed with minimal disruption to the outer anular walls of the disc.  This relieves the pressure in the disk and on adjacent nerves. This is an outpatient  procedure is done on  and because it is minimally invasive there is a decreased chance for complications with  less rehabilitation required.


The appropriate diagnostic evaluation prior to this procedure will nearly always involve a cervical or lumbosacral spine MRI as well as complete history and physical examination. If the pain is limited to the lower back without obvious radiation into the legs, discography or injection of contrast dye into the disk to further elucidate the pain mechanism may be required. Patients with large herniated discs may not be candidates for this procedure. Patients with bulging discs, small herniations with contained walls,  moderate disc herniations may be good candidates for this procedure.


  • Bulging Discs
  • Mild Disc Herniations
  • Moderate Disc Herniations
  • Central Disc Herniations with Central Pain
  • Back and Leg Pain
  • Sciatica and Radiculopathy
This page was published on Jul 20, 2017, modified on May 22, 2020 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
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