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Percutaneous laser disc decompression. A new therapeutic modality

The authors present a new advance in the treatment of herniated disc disease using percutaneous Nd:YAG laser to vaporize a small portion of nucleus pulposus, thereby decompressing the disc. In vitro and in vivo animal data are presented. Three hundred seventy-seven magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scan-documented, herniated, nonsequestered lumbar intervertebral discs with corresponding clinical findings in 333 patients were so treated in an outpatient setting. The longest follow-up was 62 months, with a mean of 26 months. According to the Macnab criteria, there was a good to fair response in 261 patients (78.4%), and a poor response in 72 (21.6%); 166 patients experienced relief of pain during the procedure. One-third of repeat magnetic resonance imaging scans at 4-6 months postlaser treatment showed modest to moderate decrease of disc herniation

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