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PLDD, Percutaneous Laser Disc Decompression

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PLDD is the minimally-invasive medical procedure developed by Dr. Daniel S.J. Choy in 1986 that uses a laser beam to treat back and neck pain caused by a herniated disc.

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A herniated disc is like a balloon with a weak spot. Inflating it will cause a bulge (herniation). Pain results from the bulge pressing against nerves in the spinal column.

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The PLDD treatment is performed on an outpatient basis using only local anesthesia. During the procedure, a thin needle is inserted into the herniated disc under x-ray guidance. An optical fiber is inserted through the needle and laser energy is sent through the fiber, vaporizing a tiny portion of the disc nucleus. This creates a partial vacuum which draws the herniation away from the nerve root, thereby relieving the pain. The effect usually is immediate.

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Patients get off the table with just a small adhesive bandage and return home for 24 hours of bed rest. Then patients begin progressive ambulation, walking up to a mile. Most return to work in four to five days.

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Because only a thin needle is used, there is no cutting and no scarring. Since only a tiny amount of disc is vaporized, there is no subsequent spinal instability. PLDD is different from open lumbar disc surgery because there is no damage to the back muscle, no bone removal or large skin incision. Most of the complications that may occur with open surgery are eliminated with the PLDD procedure.

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