OBJECTIVE: To report the short-term side effects and complications after percutaneous disc decompression utilizing coblation technology. DESIGN: Following institutional review board approval, consecutive patients who were to undergo percutaneous disc decompression using coblation technology (nucleoplasty) were prospectively enrolled. Patients were questioned preoperatively, postoperatively, and 24 hrs, 72 hrs, 1 wk, and 2 wks postprocedure by an independent reviewer regarding 17 possible symptom complications, which included bowel or bladder symptoms, muscle spasm, new pain, numbness/tingling or weakness, fevers/chills, rash/pruritus, headaches, nausea/vomiting, bleeding, and needle insertion site soreness. Statistical analysis was performed using Wilcoxon's signed-rank test. RESULTS: A total of 53 patients enrolled, of whom four patients dropped out. Two patients had increased symptoms and opted for surgery. Two patients could not be contacted. The most common side effects at 24 hrs postprocedure was soreness at the needle insertion site (76%), new numbness and tingling (26%), increased intensity of preprocedure back pain (15%), and new areas of back pain (15%). At 2 wks, no patient had soreness at the needle insertion site or new areas of back pain; however, new numbness and tingling was present in 15% of patients. Two patients (4%) had increased intensity of preprocedure back pain. There were statistically significant reductions in visual analog scale score for back pain and leg pain (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Based on this preliminary data, nucleoplasty seems to be associated with short-term increased pain at the needle insertion site and increased preprocedure back pain and tingling numbness but without other side effects.