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DESCRIPTIONImage-guided minimally invasive lumbar decompression (mild®) describes a novel percutaneous procedure for decompression of the central spinal canal in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. In this procedure, a specialized cannula and surgical tools are used under fluoroscopic guidance for bone and tissue sculpting near the spinal canal.
In lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), the space around the spinal cord narrows, compressing the spinal cord and the nerve roots. The most common symptom of LSS is back pain with neurogenic claudication, i.e., pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs that worsens with standing or walking and is alleviated with sitting or leaning forward. Compression of neural elements generally occurs from a combination of degenerative changes including ligamentum flavum hypertrophy, bulging of the intervertebral disc, and facet thickening with arthropathy. Spinal stenosis is often linked to age-related changes in disc height and arthritis of the facet joints. LSS is one of the most common reasons for back surgery and the most common reason for lumbar spine surgery in adults over 65 years of age. The goal of surgical treatment is to “decompress” the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. Although treatment of disc herniation may be required as a component of lumbar decompression, the present policy addresses posterior decompression of central LSS with a percutaneous treatment that is performed under fluoroscopic guidance.
Image-guided percutaneous minimally invasive lumbar decompression (IG-MILD) has been proposed as an ultra-minimally invasive treatment of central LSS. In the mild® procedure, the epidural space is filled with contrast medium under fluoroscopic guidance. Using a 6-gauge cannula that is clamped in place with a back plate, single use tools (portal cannula, surgical guide, bone rongeur, tissue sculpter, trocar) are used to resect thickened ligamentum flavum and small pieces of lamina. The tissue and bone sculpting is conducted entirely under fluoroscopic guidance, with additional contrast media added throughout the procedure to aid visualization of the decompression. The process is repeated on the opposite side for bilateral decompression of the central canal. The devices are not intended to be used near the lateral neural elements and are contraindicated for disc procedures.
The mild® tool kit (Vertos Medical) initially received 510(k) marketing clearance as the X-Sten MILD Tool Kit (X-Sten Corp.) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, with intended use as a set of specialized surgical instruments to be used to perform percutaneous lumbar decompressive procedures for the treatment of various spinal conditions.
Vertos mild® instructions for use state that the devices are not intended for disc procedures but rather for tissue resection at the perilaminar space, within the interlaminar space and at the ventral aspect of the lamina. These devices are not intended for use near the lateral neural elements and remain dorsal to the dura using image guidance and anatomical landmarks.
Note: The abbreviation MILD has also been used for microscopic muscle-preserving interlaminar decompression, which involves a small skin incision at the interspinous level and partial drilling of the spinous process, with decompression performed under microscopic visualization.
Also, see the Interspinous Distraction Devices (Spacers) medical policy.
POLICYImage-guided minimally invasive lumbar decompression is considered investigational.
POLICY EXCEPTIONSFEP Subscribers Only: Image-guided minimally invasive lumbar decompression for central stenosis without nerve root compression or disc herniation is considered medically necessary.
Federal Employee Program (FEP) may dictate that all FDA-approved devices, drugs or biologics may not be considered investigational and thus these devices may be assessed only on the basis of their medical necessity.
POLICY GUIDELINESInvestigative service is defined as the use of any treatment procedure, facility, equipment, drug, device, or supply not yet recognized by certifying boards and/or approving or licensing agencies or published peer review criteria as standard, effective medical practice for the treatment of the condition being treated and as such therefore is not considered medically necessary.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member's specific benefit plan language.
POLICY HISTORY07/22/2010: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee
04/20/2011: Policy reviewed; no changes.
04/26/2012: Policy reviewed; policy statement unchanged. Policy exceptions revised to state the following: FEP Subscribers Only: Image-guided minimally invasive lumbar decompression for central stenosis without nerve root compression or disc herniation is considered medically necessary.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 7.01.126
This is not an all-inclusive list of non-covered procedure codes.
All codes billed for this procedure are considered investigational and not eligible for coverage.