Minimally invasive Interspinous Spacer Procedure offers relief from low back pain

For patients experiencing leg and back pain due to lumbar spinal stenosis, a safe, minimally invasive procedure at UF Health called the Vertiflex procedure may help.

The Interspinous Spacer Procedure involves a minimally invasive titanium spacer implanted through a tiny tube via a small incision in the lower back. Once it is inserted between two vertebrae, the spacer’s arms open around the spinous process of the lumbar spine to lock the device into place. The implant creates and maintains space for affected nerves, which relieves the pressure that causes leg and back pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis.

Patient with back pain and a doctor showing her a skeleton of a spine

The implant does not involve removal of any bone or tissue, and it is inserted in a reversible procedure that does not alter the patient’s anatomy, leaving open the possibility of future treatments if needed. Additionally, the structure of the spine is not destabilized and the device is available in multiple sizes based on individual anatomy. Because of the small tube used for the implant, tissue damage and blood loss is minimized. 

For patients, this procedure has numerous advantages. Patients are discharged on the same day and recover rapidly. General anesthesia is not required and the procedure is performed in an outpatient setting.

Lumbar spinal stenosis involves a narrowing of the lower spine that impairs the nerves in the spinal canal. Patients may be eligible for the Interspinous SpacerProcedure if they are experiencing leg, buttocks, and groin pain; numbness, weakness, cramping, or stiffness in the legs or buttocks; or difficulty standing or walking long distances but relief in the seated or flexed position.

The Vertiflex procedure is FDA approved and underwent a rigorous clinical trial that enrolled  470 patients at 29 sites. Since FDA approval, more than 20,000 patients have received pain relief through the procedure.

Vertiflex excels in treating chronic low back and leg pain while having other benefits for patients as well, said Joe Mosley, DO, a Pain Medicine Fellow.

“After learning how to perform the Vertiflex procedure, I have enjoyed offering it to patients because of how much success we have seen in relieving pain,” Dr. Mosley said. “I have noticed that patients like that the recovery time is short and patients even go home the same day. The incision is only about 1 inch in length and no changes are made to the existing spine vertebrae.”

Learn more about our Pain Medicine Division.