PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Anesthesiology and Pain Management - Neurological Disorders - Physiology - Radiology and Medical Imaging - Surgery

Disc Volume Reduction with Percutaneous Nucleoplasty in an Animal Model
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Author: Richard Kasch et al.

by Richard Kasch, Birger Mensel, Florian Schmidt, Sebastian Ruetten, Thomas Barz, Susanne Froehlich, Rebecca Seipel, Harry R. Merk, Ralph Kayser

Study Design

We assessed volume following nucleoplasty disc decompression in lower lumbar spines from cadaveric pigs using 7.1Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


To investigate coblation-induced volume reductions as a possible mechanism underlying nucleoplasty.


We assessed volume following nucleoplastic disc decompression in pig spines using 7.1-Tesla MRI. Volumetry was performed in lumbar discs of 21 postmortem pigs. A preoperative image data set was obtained, volume was determined, and either disc decompression or placebo therapy was performed in a randomized manner. Group 1 (nucleoplasty group) was treated according to the usual nucleoplasty protocol with coblation current applied to 6 channels for 10 seconds each in an application field of 360°; in group 2 (placebo group) the same procedure was performed but without coblation current. After the procedure, a second data set was generated and volumes calculated and matched with the preoperative measurements in a blinded manner. To analyze the effectiveness of nucleoplasty, volumes between treatment and placebo groups were compared.


The average preoperative nucleus volume was 0.994 ml (SD: 0.298 ml). In the nucleoplasty group (n?=?21) volume was reduced by an average of 0.087 ml (SD: 0.110 ml) or 7.14%. In the placebo group (n?=?21) volume was increased by an average of 0.075 ml (SD: 0.075 ml) or 8.94%. The average nucleoplasty-induced volume reduction was 0.162 ml (SD: 0.124 ml) or 16.08%. Volume reduction in lumbar discs was significant in favor of the nucleoplasty group (p<0.0001).


Our study demonstrates that nucleoplasty has a volume-reducing effect on the lumbar nucleus pulposus in an animal model. Furthermore, we show the volume reduction to be a coblation effect of nucleoplasty in porcine discs.