A new treatment at Sarasota Memorial Hospital may help with lower back pain caused by spinal stenosis. Many people over 50 suffer from the condition, in which the spinal canal narrows, with spaces between vertebrae getting smaller, resulting in pinched nerves that can radiate pain to the legs, arms and torso as well. The procedure involves the insertion of an implant called the VertiFlex Superion that’s shown exceptional results since the FDA approved it in May 2015.
The Superion is a small titanium spacer that is inserted between compressed vertebrae in the spine of the patient through a small incision in the lower back. Acting as a wedge, the spacer alleviates pressure on the nerves around the spine and eliminates back and leg pain almost immediately. Patients can walk out the door mere hours after the 30-minute procedure.
The results are impressive, says Sarasota Memorial’s pain care specialist, Dr. Eugene Pereira, the only physician in Sarasota who is performing the procedure. “[Studies] followed patients for up to five years and found patients experienced 80 percent continued pain relief,” he says.
Compared to traditional methods of treatment for spinal stenosis, the Superion provides long term-relief with relatively little risk. The device acts as a middle ground between traditional procedures like cortisone injections, which may only prevent pain for months at a time, and more intense methods like spinal surgery that present a higher chance of complications. The new procedure fills the gap between these conservative and radical treatments, offering a minimally invasive but very effective treatment for qualifying candidates. “This could be a good option for patients who are tentative about surgery or consider it a last resort,” says Pereira.
Paul Daniele, the first patient to receive the Superion from Pereira, agrees. The procedure, he says, “has basically given me my life back.”