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Disc Decompression

Disc Decompression

Disc decompression is a highly effective procedure shown to be successful for 90 percent of patients.[1]

Multiple clinical studies have shown that disc decompression has a high success rate,[1][2] and low complication rate.[1][3] This minimally invasive procedure reduces pressure on the nerve root by removing disc nucleus while preserving disc strength and future treatment options, including surgery.[4][5]

Disc decompression is typically performed on an outpatient basis and requires only local anesthetic and mild sedation, alleviating the possible complications of open surgery and general anesthesia. This invasive procedure completes the continuum of care for patients who want a minimally invasive alternative to surgery.

Benefits of disc decompression include:

  • Significant pain relief[6][7]
  • Reduced used of pain medication[6][7]
  • Return to previous levels of activity[6][7]
  • Quantifiable disc material removal[7]
  • Less scarring
  • Quick recovery: generally 3-5 days
  • Low complication and morbidity rates[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]
  • Outpatient procedure requiring only local anesthetic alleviates possible complications of open surgery and general anesthesia

Results compared to surgery:

  • Decreased complication rate: 0.5% vs. 3% with open surgical discectomy[17][18]
  • Lower re-herniation rate: 5% vs. 10-15% compared to open lumbar discectomy[19]

Physician Locator

Use the online physician locator to find a disc decompression specialist in your area.


Tell us your story.


Disc Decompression - Patient Perspective (2:31)
Part Number: 1000-001-191 Rev None

Julie Shattuck – "I was 17 years old, a senior in high school and I woke up one morning and couldn’t stand up straight. Sitting was very painful for me so after going to class and sitting for a couple of hours I would have to go home and lay down, especially by the end of the day. It was the worst at night because you’ve gone through all your day events. I was kind of thinking I wouldn’t be able to do a lot and that my back would affect my career choices, which is tough being at this stage of my life and trying to figure out what I do want to do but then throwing in the fact that, what can I do? You know once I figure out this is what I want to do with my life can I do it because of my back pain? I tried numerous treatments including physical therapy; I went to see a chiropractor, I did acupuncture, spinal injection, drug therapy. Nothing was really working for me though. It was a lot of, I guess, lonely times. I had pain along my lower back and down the back of both of my legs."

Paul J. Lynch, M.D., Arizona Pain Specialists - “She was very active, she was a soccer player, she played lots of different sports and at an early age she started having severe pain and I began to talk to her about the percutane discectomy procedure, described to her the risks and benefits, talked to her about the possibility of this procedure taking away her pain without having an open surgery and I really thought it was the best option for her. And she had all these things going for her, she had every opportunity to become a dentist but her pain was holding her back. And so the percutane discectomy allows us, with a short 30-minute procedure, done with x-ray guidance, and most patients are able to go home within a couple hours."

Julie Shattuck - "It was the first procedure that, automatically on the table, I felt relief. Just being able to know that I can go out and do things without hesitation. I’m a psychology major, however, I just applied to dental school, which is absolutely thrilling to me."


Disc Decompression Procedure Animation (:59)

Part Number: 1000-001-184 Rev None

Intro Disclaimer: The following video is for educational purposes only; Stryker is not dispensing medical advice, and the information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating any health issue. If a patient has experienced problems linked with usage of the associated devices, please contact Stryker's Customer Service department at 800-253-3210. For more information, please consult your healthcare provider.

Back pain is frequently caused by a bulging of the lumbar disc, which normally acts as a cushion between the bones and the lower back. Due to injury or natural aging, the disc wall or annulus begin to degenerate, allowing the center or nucleus of the disc to expand, creating a bulge. This bulge can irritate nerves in the spine causing pain in the lower back and legs. Through a minimally invasive procedure known as percutaneous discectomy, a tiny puncture is made into the annulus of the affected disc and the Stryker decompressor discectomy pro is introduced. The excess nucleus material is drawn up into the decompressor, reducing the size of the bulge and releasing painful pressure from the surrounding nerves.

Closing Disclaimer: The information provided by Stryker Interventional Spine is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician to discuss any questions you may have regarding your medical condition and the most appropriate treatment option for you.

Disc Decompression Step-by-Step

Disc Decompression - Step 1

Herniated disc putting pressure on nerve root

Disc Decompression - Step 2

Under x-ray imaging, a needle is guided into the herniated disc, behind the nerve

Disc Decompression - Step 3

Disc material causing herniation is removed through the needle

Disc Decompression - Step 4

Decompressed disc relieves pain within a week of the procedure

Before the procedure

Your doctor will confirm that a herniated disc is causing your symptoms by using an imaging study, such as an MRI or CT. These tests help to determine the location of the herniated disc and whether or not disc decompression is the most appropriate treatment for you. If you are a good candidate, your doctor will ask you for the following information:

  • Current medications, including herbal supplements, and their dosages
  • Drug, iodine, or latex allergies
  • Current health conditions

Your physician or the healthcare staff will also request that you:

  • Abstain from aspirin, ASA-containing products (including Alka-Seltzer® or Pepto-Bismol®) and herbal remedies for 5 days before your procedure
  • Abstain from ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for 3 days before your procedure
  • Abstain from eating or drinking for at least 6 hours before your procedure, except necessary medications with sips of water
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes that are easy to take off and put on
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure is complete

During the procedure

Disc decompression is performed while you are awake but sedated. Your back is numbed by a local anesthetic. Using x-ray guidance, a small needle is inserted through the skin and into the herniated disc. When the probe is in the correct position, the herniated disc tissue is removed, thereby reducing the size of the disc herniation.

After the procedure

After the procedure, you’ll be placed in a recovery room for a short period of time where your vital signs will be monitored. Typically, patients go home within 1 to 3 hours of treatment. For the first three days following the procedure, apply ice to the treatment area for 1-2 hours each day, and limit driving, bending, twisting, and lifting weight over 10 pounds. Recovery time varies with each person, but many patients are able to resume work and daily activities in one week.

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