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New technology now offers patients with spinal stenosis pain relief using small devices (called spacers).

The bony projections you feel along the back of your spine are called spinous processes. Spacers are inserted between the spinous processes restricting backward movement while creating more space for the nerves within your spinal cord.

There are several types of interspinous implants. Your surgeon will recommend the type of implant based on your own situation.

What happens during interspinous implant surgery?

Interspinous implant surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic. In some cases local anaesthetic and sedation are used.

Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) along your spine. They will carefully move muscles away from your spine. A small amount of bone may need to be removed to allow room for the implant. To ensure the implant is correctly placed, a monitor with a live x-ray may be used. Once in place the implant is expanded to open the area. Your wound will be closed using stitches or staples. A dressing will cover the wound.

After your interspinous implant surgery

Immediately after your surgery you will be taken to the recovery area. Staff will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. If you are in any pain be sure and tell the recovery room staff. When you are stable a nurse will take you to your room.

Back in your room

Once you are back in your room, the nursing team will continue to check on you to make sure you are recovering well. After you have recovered from any effects of the anaesthetic, you can have something to eat and drink. Be sure to tell somebody if you are in any pain.

Some patients have difficulty passing urine after spinal surgery.

You will be encouraged to get up and move around as soon as possible - usually within 24 hours of your operation. Please wait for a member of the Healthcare Team to help you out of bed for the first time.

A physiotherapist will visit you to advise you on any restrictions and give you exercises to help you regain mobility. You may be advised to avoid bending, twisting or lifting any heavy for the first few weeks following surgery.

Going home after interspinous implant surgery

The length of your stay in hospital will depend on the degree of decompression performed. Be sure and discuss this with your surgeon.

Be sure and follow any instructions you are given regarding care of your wound and controlling any post-operative pain.

Any stitches or staples will be removed 10 - 14 days after your operation.

You will not be able to drive or return to work until you are released to do so at your follow-up appointment with your consultant. Please arrange for someone to take you home on the day of your discharge.

You may feel very tired and sore for the first few weeks. It is important to rest and allow your body to heal.

You will be encouraged to walk during your recovery. Start with short distances and build up slowly.  Avoid sitting for long periods. Keeping mobile will help you to avoid DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

Discuss any return to work with your consultant.

Most people make a good recovery after interspinous implant surgery. As with any surgical procedure there could be complications including:

Specific complications of interspinous implant surgery:

  • Continued spinal pain
  • Implant becomes loose or moves
  • Spinous processes settle around the implant
  • Spinous processes fracture while placing the implant

Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your consultant?

Interspinous implant consultants at Leeds Hospital

Leeds Hospital

2 Leighton Street, Leeds, LS1 3EB

0113 3227251

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