Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression
Now Available To Medicare Patients Nationwide, A Procedure Called mild® Is Helping Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Patients Embrace Life Again.
A short, out-patient procedure, mild® can safely and effectively help patients diagnosed with LSS to stand longer and walk farther with less pain.
As we age, our body goes through the natural wear and tear of life, and as a result, the spinal canal can become constricted due to thickened ligament tissue, overgrown bone or bulging discs which create pressure on the spinal cord. When the spinal canal is narrowed in the lower part of the spine, this is referred to as lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). This condition affects more than 1.2 million patients in the country every year. Patients may experience pain, numbness or tingling in the lower back, legs or buttocks. This can limit the individual’s ability to walk or stand for any appreciable length of time. LSS usually targets people over 50 years of age and the likelihood of developing it does increase with age. It is estimated that roughly 10% of Americans have lumbar spinal stenosis, and that by 2021 some 2.4 million will be experiencing considerable pain and reduced mobility as a result of the condition.
Fortunately, there is a procedure called mild® (minimally invasive lumbar decompression), an FDA-cleared and clinically proven outpatient procedure that can help patients diagnosed with LSS. Performed through a small incision about the size of a baby aspirin, mild® requires no stiches, is done under conscious twilight sedation as opposed to general anesthesia, involves no implants and requires no overnight hospital stay.
“This is great news for the thousands of people who suffer from the debilitating symptoms related to their lumbar spinal stenosis with neurogenic claudication, who have struggled to find a safe, effective, low-cost solution,” said Eric Wichems, President and CEO of Vertos Medical. According to Vertos Medical, manufacturers of the device for the mild® procedure, it has been studied in more than 20 peer-review publications and 12 clinical trials and has been performed on more than 20,000 patients. Additionally, Vertos Medical conveyed that peer-reviewed clinical data has demonstrated that mild® helps patients suffering from LSS stand longer and walk further with less pain. Vertos Medical has received national coverage for this procedure through an approved study under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Coverage with Evidence Development Program (CED).
Vertos Medical also trains physicians to do perform mild®, one of whom is Dr. C. Lan Fotopoulos, an interventional physiatrist with Dickson Diveley Midwest Orthopaedic Clinic in Leawood, Kansas. One of the first physicians in the Kansas City metro area to offer this procedure, Dr. Fotopoulos has seen tremendous results with mild®.
“This is an excellent treatment for patients who formerly relied upon epidural steroid injections, physical therapy and or medications to relieve their pain,” noted Dr. Fotopoulos. “In less than an hour, we can remove small pieces of bone and excess ligament using an imaging machine along with specialized tools through one tiny incision in the back. Once completed, space is restored to the spinal canal and compression is alleviated from the nerves. Think of this as something similar to removing a kink in a drinking straw or a garden hose.”
Dr. Fotopoulos did advise, however, that this procedure is geared towards patients with mild to moderate LSS and not the severe cases, as some patients who are candidates for open surgical decompression may not be suited for mild® because of the severity of their condition. In other words, the ideal patients are those whose condition is not advanced enough to warrant a more invasive surgical route.
“This is not for disc herniation,” explained Dr. Fotopoulos, noting the key indicators include leg pain when walking that is alleviated while sitting or lying down. “With LSS, patients complain of leg pain, achiness or heaviness while walking; numbness and tingling; and weakness with activity. This procedure can reduce those symptoms and the pain by at least 50%, with some patients realizing up to 80%-100% pain relief.”
Essentially, mild® is designed to remove excess ligament tissue that is causing the narrowing of the spinal canal. Since it does not change the structural stability of the spine, open surgery can still be an option if the LSS progresses further.
As a result of this minimally invasive orthopedic surgery, patients are getting back to their lives again, as mobility has been restored, pain has been reduced and the compression of nerves has been alleviated. If your doctor determines you have LSS caused by excess ligament, the mild® procedure may be an effective treatment for you. A study from the Cleveland Clinic reported that at one year post-procedure, patients improved their standing time from eight minutes to 56 minutes and increased their walking distance from 246 feet to 3,956 feet. This is the difference from being able to walk just to the mailbox to being able to walk around the mall.
Dr. Fotopoulos emphasized that mild® can be repeated if necessary but that he has seen the results last for years.
Patients can expect to resume light activities in just a few days post-procedure. “In fact, exercise is the key post-procedure,” he noted. “Physical therapy may be continued and patients may notice a decreased need for oral medications along with increased involvement within their communities, getting back to the life they want and deserve. I have treated about 200 patients with mild® and for the right patient, it does a tremendous job.”
For more information on the mild® procedure, go online at mildprocedure.com. To inquire about a consultation with Dr. Fotopoulos, visit dd-clinic.com or call 913-319-7678 ext 3109.
Saint Luke’s Hospital Campus Medical Plaza Building 1, Ste 610, 4321 Washington St., KCMO
3651 College Blvd, Leawood, KS 66211