Disc nucleus replacement

Disc Nucleus Replacement relieves the pain caused by degenerative disc disease. It is a minimally invasive procedure which replaces the abnormal disc nucleus with an artificial disc nucleus.

The procedure is undertaken under general anaesthetic. An incision is made into the annulus, the outer part of the disc, the nucleus is removed and a balloon is inserted. The balloon is filled with a polymer which forms an implant and restores the disc’s function. The surgeon will approach the through the abdomen.

Hospital stay

On average patients will require 2-3 nights in hospital. You may need to lie flat for several hours following the procedure and keep your spine aligned. After this time you will be able to sit and lie however you are comfortable. You will be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids.

You will be seen by our physiotherapist who will help get mobile as soon as possible. You will be mobilised gently initially and this should be increased daily. Each day post surgery you will be encouraged to undertake more activities for yourself such as washing and dressing.


On discharge you will be given at least one week’s supply of analgesia and any other required medications. With most analgesia it is advisable to take a regular laxative as all analgesia has a constipating side effect. If you require further medications your GP should be able to write a prescription. Alternatively, your consultant will prescribe if appropriate at your follow-up appointment.


In order to be discharged you need to be as independent as you were pre-surgery, if not more so.

Initially, sitting may be uncomfortable and you should move around every 20 – 30 minutes.


Your surgeon will advise, however it is common to abstain from driving for 2-3 weeks. You must be able to perform an emergency stop safely, without harming yourself or anyone else.

You are able to be a passenger in a car post surgery. It is advisable to sit in the passenger seat with the seat reclined and use a cushion for support if comfortable. If the journey is greater than 45mins have regular breaks and stretch your legs.


Your surgeon will advise, however it is common to abstain from flying for 2-3 weeks following surgery.

When flying it is advisable to recline your seat and regularly walk up and down the gangway.


Your consultant will advise you on this, however 6-12 weeks of rest, away from work, is common. If possible graduate your return to work; a few hours a day for a few days a week. If absolutely necessary to take public transport travel at quiet times, early morning or late morning, avoiding rush hour. If you are in a sedentary job regularly stand and walk around. If you have an active job you may require a longer period off work and should consider lighter duties on your return.


Walking is initially the best form of exercise and you should gently increase the amount of walking you undertake and return to your normal exercise regime gradually. You should aim to increase your levels of exertion over a 6-8 week period, building your stamina towards resuming normal activities.

Do not lift anything over 3kg in weight. You must not bend or twist until advised otherwise.

Wound care

Your wound will be covered with a large dressing initially and this will be reduced before you go home. A waterproof dressing will be fitted on discharge and this will need to be changed every 3 days. Your surgeon will have closed your wound with staples or steristrips and these should be removed 10 – 14 days after surgery by your practice nurse. Once the staples or steristrips have been removed the wound can be left uncovered and is able to get wet. You should shower, not bath, until your follow-up with your consultant.

Information given are guidelines and may vary from patient to patient.

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