Automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy

Automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy (or APLD) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat symptoms of a bulging disc or a small herniated disc in the lower back.

A bulging disc occurs when the nucleus of the disc protrudes outward but doesn’t completely rupture the outer layer of the disc, as is the case with a herniated disc. Bulging discs can press against neighboring nerves and cause symptoms like pain, numbness and weakness in the back or limbs, depending on the location of the affected disc.

The aim of any discectomy, including an APLD, is to decompress the nerves by removing displaced disc material and disc fragments. Laser Spine Institute does not perform this procedure. An alternative procedure we offer is our minimally invasive lumbar discectomy that reduces the risks of complication and infection compared to traditional open back surgery.

Comparison to other forms of discectomy

APLD is different from a microdiscectomy or other types of discectomy because it’s performed through a tiny needle in the skin instead of an incision. In some types of APLD, an automated suction-cutting device inserted through the needle is used to extract the disc material.

This procedure is sometimes an effective alternative to traditional open back surgery, but it can’t be used in cases where the lumbar disc has completely herniated. However, like most minimally invasive procedures it can offer some of the following advantages compared to traditional open back surgery:

• Less scarring
• Shorter recovery periods
• Outpatient procedures can offer less risk of infection compared to hospital-based surgery

Laser Spine Institute alternative

The fact is that symptoms from many bulging and herniated discs can be treated with a conservative treatment plan as recommended by your primary care physician. Common methods of conservative treatment include periods of rest, light exercise, heating pads and ice packs. Lifestyle changes like using good posture, maintaining a healthy weight and protecting your back while lifting are also proven to be effective at managing symptoms.

If you’ve tried months of conservative treatments but are still experiencing painful and debilitating bulging disc symptoms, your physician may recommend a surgical procedure like a discectomy. If you are researching surgery and have become concerned about some of the risks and shortcomings involved with other procedures, reach out to Laser Spine Institute.

We are the leaders in minimally invasive spine surgery and have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Our minimally invasive discectomy procedures can offer a dramatically shorter recovery time^ compared to traditional open back surgery by using smaller, muscle-sparing incisions that allow our surgeons direct access to the spine for the removal of disc material.

To learn more about becoming a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact our Care Team today for a no-cost MRI review.*