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MILD Procedure

Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is a condition that occurs when the spinal canal narrows and causes the nerves to become compressed. People who have LSS often experience chronic back and leg pain, tingling or numbness. The condition is primarily caused by aging as well as degeneration of the spine, and growth of bones and ligaments.

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD) is a type of outpatient procedure to treat people with LSS. During the procedure, a physician removes excess bone and ligaments in the narrowed area, which creates more space in the spinal canal so the nerves can decompress. MILD can help patients stand longer and walk farther with less pain, and is less invasive than traditional open spine surgery.

Preparing for MILD

Prior to the appointment, discuss all medications to determine if any need to be adjusted prior to procedure.

On the day of the procedure, do not eat within six hours before the procedure; however, water or other clear liquids are allowed until two hours before the procedure, as authorized by a physician.

Patients should make arrangements to have a family member or friend drive home them after the procedure.

What Happens During MILD?

After being given a local anesthesia and light sedation, a physician will make a tiny incision in the back. Next, they will use an imaging device called a fluoroscope that will allow them to view the area in real time.

Using specialized surgical tools, a physician will remove small bits of overgrown bone and ligament tissue from the spinal canal. Usually the procedure takes one hour or less.

What Happens after MILD?

Patients will wait in a recovery room for the anesthesia to wear off. Patients should not drive, bathe or swim on the day of the procedure, but otherwise should be able to do most normal activities.

There will likely be some soreness at the site of the incision, but recovery time is shorter than other surgical procedures for treating LSS. Unless there are complications, patients should be able to return to work and perform normal daily tasks within a few days of the procedure. 

Although every patient is different, most patients experience a reduction in pain and an increase in mobility.