Coflex® Interlaminar Stabilization is a surgical procedure that removes pressure from damaged joints and discs, while preserving the stability of the spine. It is an alternative to spinal fusion.
When damaged sections of the spine are removed due to disease or damage, the stability of the spine is compromised. If the bones of the spine are fused to increase the structure’s stability, the spine can no longer bend at the point where the vertebrae were fused. Coflex® interlaminar stabilization provides stability for the spine, without making it rigid. The idea behind the Coflex® procedure was originally produced in Switzerland and further developed in Germany. Procedures similar to Coflex® interlaminar stabilization have been used on patients for approximately the past 15 years.
The coflex® procedure is typically recommend for patients who have spinal conditions and disorders that result in spinal instability and who have been unsuccessful in treating their condition with conservative or non-surgical methods.
No two patients are exactly alike and if you are scheduled for coflex® interlaminar stabilization surgery, your surgeon will provide you with pre-op instructions. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions exactly as directed. The procedure will be explained to you and you will be given the opportunity to ask questions. If you have any concerns or questions about the surgery, be sure to ask. Following is a list of instructions you may find helpful related to spinal procedures, including the coflex® interlaminar stabilization operation.
Most often, patients are given fluids and medications through an intravenous (IV) line in their arm or hand. Initially, the medications will help you relax and once in the operating room, general anesthesia will be given through the IV line to put you completely to sleep. While asleep, the anesthesiologist will insert a breathing tube to help you breathe while you are asleep.
You will lie on your abdomen throughout coflex® interlaminar stabilization surgery. Your back will be cleaned thoroughly and then any part not being operated on will be covered with sterile cloths. There are two different approaches the surgeon can use for coflex® interlaminar stabilization. These are called the midline approach and the Tramline (Wiltse) approach.
From the operating room, most patients move to the recovery room or PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit) where they are monitored by nurses to ensure their condition is stable. Some patients are discharged from the hospital on the same day, while others remain in the hospital for a day or so. This depends on the reason for the coflex® interlaminar stabilization procedure, the patient’s overall condition and on the surgeon’s orders.
When patients are fully awake, they are usually allowed to drink, starting with clear liquids, and then advancing back to their normal diets as tolerated. To help prevent nausea and vomiting, try not to drink and eat too much or too quickly right after your coflex® procedure.
The nurses will take care of any incisional care or wound dressings while you are in the hospital. You will be instructed how to take care of your incision before you go home.
Rehabilitation after coflex® interlaminar stabilization surgery usually involves physical therapy. Nurses will help you get out of bed soon after your procedure and physical therapists will soon have you walking short distances. Lightheadedness and dizziness are commonly reported after surgery. These will resolve as your strength returns. You may be fitted for a brace to wear to help support your spine. Physical therapists sometimes help with braces after coflex® interlaminar stabilization. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s instruction regarding when and for how long to wear your brace.
Most patients experience significant improvements in their symptoms following coflex® interlaminar stabilization.
It may take several weeks to recover from the procedure. Patients typically return to their surgeon approximately six weeks after surgery for follow up and X-rays. If the X-rays show healing and the coflex® device is in the correct position, many patients return to physical therapy to work on muscle strengthening and flexibility exercises and techniques to improve their posture.
Because the coflex® interlaminar stabilization procedure is relatively new, long-term outcomes are not yet known. Testing of the device was extensive and the outcome of clinical trials has been positive. Studies are on-going to monitor the value of coflex® interlaminar stabilization and further results will become available in the future.