When a herniated disc pinches a nerve and in addition the nucleus pulposus is damaged to the extent that there is almost nothing left, the neurosurgeon may propose removing the hernia and implanting a new nucleus pulposus at the same time. This will mostly be the case with younger people with a sudden large disc hernia.

Prosthetic disc nucleus (PDN) - 1 Prosthetic disc nucleus (PDN) - 1

The nucleus pulposus in itself can be replaced with another of man-made material. The new nucleus can be introduced in different ways, either via the abdomen, or via the back, or via an incision in the lumbar region. The surgeon makes a small opening in the annulus fibrosus to remove the broken up remains of the original nucleus pulposus. Then the new nucleus, made of hydrogel in a polyethylene jacket and having the same shock absorbing qualities as the original nucleus, is put into place. This surgery can be used only for the lumbar vertebrae.

The advantage is of a theoretical nature; the removed nucleus is replaced with a new one. We believe that this is a maximum restoration of the disc to ensure optimal function. To date there has been no scientific proof of this theory. The disadvantage is the introduction of a foreign body and the cost (€ 1000) which is not fully reimbursed by the Belgian mandatory health insurance.