March 10, 2018

Brand New Procedure to Treat Stenosis: A Common Cause of Pain When Walking

By Bryt Christensen, MD

A new and exciting treatment has been developed for people suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis that does not involve major spine surgery, and has been shown to be more effective than traditional surgery. The Superion implant by Vertiflex has undergone rigorous study and research. Up until recently, when conservative treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, medications, and epidural injections failed to provide relief of symptoms, lumbar decompressive surgery was the next option for treatment. Now, the Superion implant by Vertiflex is potentially a great option for patients wanting to avoid major surgery.

Spinal stenosis occurs when there is narrowing in the spinal canal, causing pressure against the spinal nerves within the back. It can be caused by arthritis, intervertebral disc bulges, and growth of a ligament inside the spine. Spinal stenosis can lead to several symptoms that can make walking and standing miserable. Some of the most common symptoms people can feel, include: pain, weakness, and heaviness felt in the low back, hips, thighs and/or legs. Usually the symptoms get worse with standing and walking, and are relieved when bending forward or sitting. People who suffer from spinal stenosis often find relief when shopping by bending forward and leaning on the shopping cart while walking. The Superion implant has been designed to treat patients who get relief from their symptoms when bending or sitting, and can help them avoid decompressive surgery.

The surgery required to place the Superion implant is a minimally invasive, outpatient surgery, allowing for the patient to go home immediately following the procedure. The implant is placed between the spinous processes of the vertebrae, at the level of the lumbar stenosis. This is done in a very minimally invasive manner, with a small one-inch incision and a cannula about the size of a dime. Special minimally invasive tools are used to put the implant in place, through the small cannula, not requiring any muscles or bones to be cut. By placing the implant in this manner, patients can expect minimal pain and a speedy recovery. When deployed, the implant causes a distraction of the spinous processes, leading to opening of the central canal and relieving the stenosis. This is similar to when the patient gets relief of symptoms when bending or sitting. The implant is left in place and the incision closed. The entire procedure typically takes about 30 minutes.

The Superion implant has a success rate of greater than 80% for relief of the symptoms caused by stenosis—better than traditional surgery. The complication rate from the procedure is also much lower. If the implant does not resolve the symptoms as planned, traditional surgery can still be performed, if needed. Therefore, if the stenosis does not improve, or if the condition worsens, the implant does not inhibit major surgery, if warranted.

The physicians at Southwest Spine and Pain were chosen to be the first physicians in the state

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