Percutaneous Endoscopic Discectomy

A percutaneous endoscopic discectomy (PED) is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove severely damaged intravertebral discs. Intravertebral discs are soft jelly-like cushions located between the bony vertebrae that make up the spine. This technique is usually used for herniated discs that are experiencing “contained” herniations or smaller discs with “uncontained” herniations. When herniated, these discs can leak, placing pressure on the nerves that run through the spine. A surgeon will use endoscopic instruments to capture real-time images of the damaged disc, so that it can be shrunk using a laser and any remaining fragments removed to eliminate pain.


  • Herniated disc – When the center of a spinal disc ends up pushing through a crack within the tough exterior casing. Some herniated discs may not show any symptoms, while others can lead to weakness in the arms and legs, or back pain.
  • Bulging disc – An evolution of the herniated disc, where the disc is “bulging” out through a space in the spine.
  • Torn disc – An alternative name used for the herniated disc.
  • Degenerative disc disease – Where the discs in your vertebra start to experience fragmentation, herniation, and a loss of cushioning due to growing older.
  • Lumbar radiculopathy (sciatica) – Indicated by pain running down one or both of your legs, starting from the lower back area. Usually occurs when a herniated disc or bone spure puts pressure on a spinal nerve.
  • Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve) – The more general term for radiculopathy, is characterized as a disease found at a nerve’s root, due to a pinched nerve or from a tumor. Within this case, a nerve that is pinched because of pressure from a herniated disc or bone spur.


  • A small incision is made near the location of the damaged disc
  • A real-time camera attached to a scope is inserted to provide images of the damaged disc
  • These images are relayed to TV monitors in the operating room to assist the surgeon
  • A laser is applied to the damaged disc to cause it to shrink back to its original form due to the heat of the beam
  • Fragments of the damaged disc are removed through the small incision using suction