The best candidate for this procedure is the one who suffers from a contained disc herniation unresponsive to conservative care. Typical signs of a contained disc herniation is primarily a pain radiating down the leg or arm with some back pain.

Nucleoplasty is not useful for degenerative disc disease or spinal fractures.

Before the Procedure

Medical evaluation will include a physical exam. Diagnostic tests such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), steroid injection, or discography may be conducted to diagnose and locate the symptomatic disc herniation and determine if the procedure is appropriate.

During the Procedure

Nucleoplasty is performed under local anesthesia and light sedation. A small nick is made in the skin near the spine, and a needle is inserted. The decompression device is then inserted through the needle, into the disc and activated to remove tissue. The device and needle are removed and the small nick is covered with a bandage. The entire procedure will take approximately one hour.

After the Procedure

Patients will be required to be observed for one to two hours after the procedure. Typically, patients are then released to rest for one to three days with limited sitting or walking.

In most cases, symptoms caused by the disc herniation are gone or diminished within two weeks. A patient may experience some discomfort or bruising where the needle was inserted.

After about one week, patients are typically allowed to pursue some physical activity and return to work.

Benefits and Risks


  • Minimally invasive; performed using x-ray guidance
    • Elimination of general anaesthesia
    • Elimination of complications that may result from open surgery
  • Outpatient procedure
    • No overnight hospitalisation required
    • Procedure time is about 1-2 hours
  • Rapid recovery time
    • Patients go home the same day of treatment
  • Quick symptom relief within two weeks for most patients


  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve Injury
  • Injury to endplate of vertebral body

Complications are rare, but these should be discussed with your doctor

Nucleoplasty is available at:

Radiology Department,
Mount Elizabeth Hospital

3 Mount Elizabeth, Level 2 Singapore 228510
(65) 6731 2100
Fax: (65) 6732 3368

Department of Radiology & Nuclear Medicine
Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

38 Irrawady Road, Level 2,
Singapore 329563
(65) 6933 1188
Fax: (65) 6933 0526


Visit this FAQs page for more information.



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