New Spinal Device for Lumbar Stenosis
Doctors continue to search for ways to treat lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) in older adults. LSS is a narrowing of the spinal canal and the holes where spinal nerves exit the canal. Degenerative changes in the spine that come with aging put pressure on these nerve tissues. The result can be painful symptoms for many adults 65 years old and older.

Nonoperative therapy such as steroid injection, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and physical therapy often help. But when they don't, then surgery to remove bone from around the nerve may be needed. This procedure is called surgical decompression.

There are many different ways to surgically decompress the spinal nerves. In this study, a new device called the interspinous process decompression (IPD) system was used for this condition. Results were compared to a second group treated with conservative, nonoperative care.

Using local anesthesia and a small incision, the IPD was inserted between the spinous processes of two lumbar vertebrae. The spinous process is a bony projection off the back of the vertebral body. The end of the spinous process is the bump you feel along the back of your spine.

Results of this treatment were measured by having the patients take a survey before and then several times after the operation. Patients receiving nonoperative care filled out the same survey in the same time intervals. Everyone was followed for at least two years.

The final results showed a positive difference for patients with the IPD. Patients reported a much improved quality of life after the implant was put in place. The results were about the same for other methods of decompressive surgery. Future studies comparing IPD with other operative techniques for LSS are needed next.
Ken Y. Hsu, MD, et al. Quality of Life of Lumbar Stenosis-Treated Patients in Whom the X STOP Interspinous Device Was Implanted. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. December 2006. Vol. 5. No. 6. Pp. 500-507.