Interspinous spacers are a surgical treatment option for spinal stenosis that lifts and separates the affected vertebrae to reduce the painful compression. The Superion ® InterSpinous Spacer (ISS) is one specific type of spacer that possesses the lowest fail rates compared to other spinal spacers on the market. This indirect decompression device is composed of titanium and comes in several sizes to best match a patient’s spinal anatomy. The Vertiflex procedure is a minimally invasive, outpatient medical procedure in which a healthcare professional inserts the Superion® Implant between the spinous processes in your vertebrae. The spinous processes are thin, bony projections located on the back of your spine.
Those with moderate spinal stenosis who cannot find pain relief from other conservative treatment options after six months are candidates for a Superion® Implant. Those whose symptoms are relieved by bending or leaning forward are also candidates for this implant. The Vertiflex procedure is reversible, if needed, and leaves little to no scar tissue in or on the spinal cord.
Lumbar spinal stenosis
Neurogenic claudication: pain in legs caused by lumbar spinal stenosis
Non-surgical option with a short recovery time
Lower risk procedure than traditional back surgery
Reduced pain caused by lumbar spinal stenosis
Improved back functionality and mobility
Creates more space in the spinal cord without removing any bones and with limited trauma to surrounding muscles and ligaments
Before your procedure, your doctor may ask you to stop taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), immunosuppressant medication, and blood thinners to reduce your risk of serious complications or infections. If you are pregnant or suspect you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about alternative treatment options. Your healthcare professional may ask you not to eat or drink several hours before the procedure. This procedure cannot be performed if the patient has an active infection or symptoms of a cold, flu, or similar malady. If you experience these symptoms on the day of the procedure, you will need to reschedule your implant.
When you arrive for your procedure, you will lie face down on a table. Your healthcare professional inserting the interspinous spacer will apply local anesthesia and numbing solution to your back. You may receive general anesthesia via an IV, depending on your pain tolerance and comfort levels. During the procedure, the healthcare professional will make a small incision in your lower back before injecting the Superion ® Implant between the spinous processes of your vertebrae. The medical professional may insert the implant directly through the incision or through small tubes called cannulas. A continuous x-ray will guide the healthcare professional during the procedure to ensure accurate placing.
The Vertiflex procedure lasts approximately thirty minutes but may last longer depending on how many implants are needed. If your spinal stenosis affects more than one vertebrae, you may need an interspinous spacer in each affected vertebrae. The more implants you need, the longer the procedure lasts. Once your medical practitioner completes the implantation, you will remain in an observation room to ensure no immediate allergic reactions or other complications arise.
Once you leave the observation room, you will need someone to drive you home. Your doctor will provide you with information on how to care for your surgical site and physical activity restrictions. You will need to rest for several days following the procedure and keep the incision site clean and dry until your first follow-up appointment. You will not be permitted to participate in any strenuous activity for up to six weeks after surgery, but your doctor will provide you with more specific instructions.
After the Vertiflex procedure, you may feel an increase in pain or soreness in your lower back near the incision site. This common side effect of the implantation should dissipate within two to three days. If the pain becomes too bothersome, you can take over-the-counter pain medication or use an ice pack on the affected area.
An overwhelming majority of patients undergoing the Vertiflex procedure enjoy long-term back and leg pain relief.
The Superion ® InterSpinous Spacer provides a lower risk than other traditional surgical options, but, as with any surgical procedure, the risk for complication still exists. Possible risks include:
Allergic reaction to anesthesia
Bones may settle around the spacer
This is common among those living with osteoporosis. Your doctor will discuss ways to reduce this risk for those with osteoporosis undergoing the Vertiflex procedure.
Infection, bruising and bleeding at the incision site
Fracture in the spinous process when the Superion ® InterSpinous Spacer is inserted