THE VERTIFLEX PROCEDURE
What is a Vertiflex Procedure?
The Vertiflex Procedure refers to a safe and minimally invasive XR-guided treatment that provides effective long-term relief from the pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) (Nunley et al., 2017). This procedure delivers long-term relief for patients who suffer from neurogenic claudication due to lumbar stenosis. A Vertiflex Procedure can help patients who have tried and failed conservative treatments such as physical therapy, pain medication, and spinal injections, but do not want to undergo surgery. An excruciatingly uncomfortable condition, Lumbar stenosis can severely limit one’s ability to function.
The Vertiflex Procedure can help patients avoid more invasive lumbar surgery by treating this uncomfortable disease. Almost 90% of patients show their satisfaction even after 5 years with the Vertiflex Procedure. The Vertiflex Procedure involves inserting a tiny implant into the spinal canal to make room for the nerves. Later, the implants fold to fit into a tiny tube. The implant arms open up and lock the spinous process in place. It supports the patient’s current anatomy and becomes entirely reversible, allowing the patient to pursue all treatment options in the future.
Conditions for Vertiflex Procedure
Basic conditions elegible for the Vertiflex procedure include lumbar stenosis. The most common cause of lumbar spinal stenosis includes the following:
- Physical trauma such as spinal fracture or dislocation
- Spinal tumor
- Paget’s disease
- Disc disease
- Calcium deposition along with the spine
- Spinal injuries
- Curved spine
Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis may experience the following symptoms like pain during walking, weakness, loss of balance, incoordination, tingling, numbness, or cramping in the back, leg, or buttock, relief of pain while sitting, heaviness feeling in the leg, etc.
Benefits and risks of Vertiflex Procedure
The benefits of the Vertiflex procedure may include (Shabat, Miller, Block, & Gepstein, 2011):
- Minimum blood loss
- Lowering the risk of infection due to no open spine surgery
- Minimally invasive procedure
- Quick healing process
- No general anesthesia
- No spinal destabilization
- High success rate
- Quick release from the hospital
Complications can arise during any surgical operation. Patients with Vertiflex operation seldom experience most minor complications. Some possess the risk of experiencing reactions with the implanting metal. Other risks associated with the Vertiflex Procedure include dislodgement of the implant, settlement of bone around the implant in osteoporotic patients, fracture of the spinous process, etc.
Who is a candidate for the Procedure?
The Vertiflex procedure helps patients with moderate lumbar spinal stenosis and any patient with a spinal disease that includes spinal stenosis. Other potential candidates for this procedure may include patients who could benefit from a spinal fusion and patients who might undergo laminectomy. Spinal Surgeons cannot perform this procedure on patients with the following conditions (Loguidice, Bini, Shabat, Miller, & Block, 2011):
- Cauda equina syndrome
- Spinal weakness
- Spondylolisthesis or degenerative spondylolisthesis
- Severe osteoporosis
- Allergic reaction to titanium or titanium alloy
- Fracture of the spinous process, etc.
How does a Spinal Surgeon perform Vertiflex Procedure?
This FDA-approved system uses a trademarked Vertiflex implant, known as Vertiflex Superion interspinous spacer, to perform the Vertiflex procedure successfully. This spacer acts as an extension blocker between the spinous processes of two adjacent vertebrae. The entire procedure may include (Hartman, Granville, & Jacobson, 2019):
- Patients need to lie on the table with their face down
- Neurosurgeons will administer local anesthesia to the incision area
- Neurosurgeons will make a small incision (one cm- less than ½ inch) to insert a small tube
- With the help of a real-time x-ray, the neurosurgeon will insert the tube by pushing the tissues out of the way
- Between the designated vertebrae, neurosurgeons will insert the Vertiflex implant
- This implant will adjust to spread the vertebrae apart and relieves the pressure from the spinal nerves
- Finally, neurosurgeons will secure the Vertiflex implant and close the incision by suture.
The entire procedure requires approximately a half-hour to complete. Based on the patients condition, neurosurgeons can implant more than one spinal decompression device.
What Does Recovery from Vertiflex Procedure Look Like?
Several studies show the effectiveness of the Vertiflex procedure in most patients (Gazzeri, Galarza, & Alfieri, 2017). This safe, simple, and minimally invasive procedure provides effective and long-term relief from the pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis. Patients may leave the hospital within one day after the operation. According to a survey, the patient’s satisfaction may increase up to 89.5% after 5 years of Vertiflex operation. After the operation, patients need to keep the area clean and dry and make a schedule for a follow-up visit within the next 7 or 14 days. Immediately after the operation, patients need to consult with their neurosurgeon for some post-operative guidance. Patients need to limit their heavy activities like lifting, bending, twisting, and strenuous activity like playing golf, tennis, swimming, for at least 6 weeks after the operation. While left untreated, the condition of lumbar spinal stenosis becomes worse, leading to excessive narrowing of the spinal canal. For any information, please contact us.
Gazzeri, R., Galarza, M., & Alfieri, A. (2017). Response to: Comment on “controversies about Interspinous Process Devices in the Treatment of Degenerative Lumbar Spine Diseases: Past, Present, and Future.” BioMed Research International, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/1504316
Hartman, J., Granville, M., & Jacobson, R. E. (2019). The Use of Vertiflex® Interspinous Spacer Device in Patients With Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and Concurrent Medical Comorbidities. Cureus, 11(8), 2–12. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.5374
Loguidice, V., Bini, W., Shabat, S., Miller, L. E., & Block, J. E. (2011). Rationale, design and clinical performance of the Superion® Interspinous Spacer: A minimally invasive implant for treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis. Expert Review of Medical Devices, 8(4), 419–426. https://doi.org/10.1586/erd.11.24
Nunley, P. D., Patel, V. V., Gorndorff, D., Lavelle, W. F., Block, J. E., & Geisler, F. H. (2017). Five-year durability of stand-alone interspinous process decompression for lumbar spinal stenosis. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 12, 1409–1417. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S143503
Shabat, S., Miller, L. E., Block, J. E., & Gepstein, R. (2011). Minimally invasive treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis with a novel interspinous spacer. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 6(1), 227–233. https://doi.org/10.2147/cia.s23656