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Percutaneous laser discectomy: experience and long term follow-up

The classical microsurgical approach in the treatment of herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) has been substituted over the years by endoscopical approach, in which it is possible to practice via endoscopy a laser thermo-discoplasty, and by percutaneous laser disc decompression and nucleotomy. Percutaneous laser disc decompression and nucleotomy have been performed worldwide in more than 40,000 cases of HNP. Because water is the major component of the intervertebral disc and in HNP pain is caused by disc protrusion pressing against the nerve root, a 980 nm Diode (Biolitec AG-Germany) laser introduced via a 21-G needle under X-ray or CT-scan guidance and local anesthesia, vaporizes a small amount of the nucleous pulposus shrinking the disc and relieving the pressure on the nerve root. A multicentric retrospective study with a mean follow-up of 6 years was performed on 900 patients suffering from relevant symptoms that had been therapy-resistant for 6 months on average before consulting our department. Evaluation included 585 (65%) males and 315 (35%) females. The average age of patients operated was 46 years (18-54). The success rate at a mean follow-up of 5 years (2-6 years) was about 70% with a very low complication rate

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