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Percutaneous cervical nucleoplasty and percutaneous cervical discectomy treatments of the contained cervical disc herniation



There were no studies in literature to compare the clinical outcomes of percutaneous nucleoplasty (PCN) and percutaneous cervical discectomy (PCD) in contained cervical disc herniation.


A retrospective of patients with symptomatic contained cervical disc herniated were operated on with PCN and PCD from June 2003 to July 2005. Two-hundred and four patients initially fulfilled the study criteria, and 28 patients were lost in follow-up. The patients were categorized into different groups depending on the procedure by PCN (81 cases) or PCD (95 cases).


The clinical outcomes, pain reduction, and segment stability were recorded during this study. Puncture of the needle into the disc space was accurately performed under C-arm fluoroscopy guidance in all cases and no intraoperative deaths were reported in our study. At the end, 176 cases had follow-up and 28 cases were lost, and the follow-up rate was 88.0% (81/92) in the PCN group and 84.8% (95/112) in the PCD group. The follow-up time ranged from 16 to 48 months (average 29 months), and on an average of 28.86 ± 4.52 months on PCN and 8.42 ± 3.21 months on PCD (t = −0.24, P = 0.81, >0.05). The operation time averages of PCN and PCD are 4.67 ± 1.16 and 11.95 ± 1.80, respectively (P < 0.01). The pain index improved from 7.12 ± 1.13 to 2.74 ± 0.89 (t = 27.03, P = 0.0000, <0.001) in PCN patients and from 7.18 ± 1.09 to 2.71 ± 0.91 (t = 29.57, P = 0.0000, <0.001) in PCD patients. Clinical results of PCN were excellent in 31 cases, good 32 cases, fair 13 cases, and poor 5 cases; for PCD, the results were 33, 42, 12, and 7 cases, respectively, and 1 in discitis. Good and excellent was 78.4% (77.8% in PCN and 79.5% in PCD, P > 0.05). There was one case of PCN that had the partial Perc-D SpineWand broken in the disc space, cannot be moved by the percutaneous cervical discectomy, and remained there itself. One of the cases had discitis in this study after PCD. Patient presented with neck pain and associated radicular pain and numbness in the left upper-limb after 8 days of PCD. There were no instable cases after procedures of PCN and PCD. There were no significant difference in stability of preoperatively and postoperatively between PCN and PCD (P > 0.05).


PCN and PCD treatments of contained cervical disc herniation show good outcomes and there was no difference in the stability of cervical spine. PCN and PCD are safe, minimally invasive, and no differences were observed between the methods in clinical outcome.

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Correspondence to Denglu Yan.

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Yan, D., Li, J., Zhu, H. et al. Percutaneous cervical nucleoplasty and percutaneous cervical discectomy treatments of the contained cervical disc herniation. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 130, 1371–1376 (2010).

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  • Nucleoplasty
  • Disc herniation
  • Coblation
  • Cervical
  • Diskectomy