Interspinous Process Decompression


Interspinous process decompression, also known as X-STOP or IPD, is a minimally invasive procedure designed to alleviate pain symptoms of spinal stenosis. The X-STOP device is an implant, acting as a spacer inserted into the patient’s spine during the procedure. This prevents the spine from overextending and causing further damage to the spine.

The X-STOP device is made by Medtronic and has been approved for use by the FDA. The X-STOP procedure has been performed thousands of times in the US.


The Interspinous Process Decompression (IPD) treatment is recommended only for patients who suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis, a condition which can cause the following symptoms:

  • Burning pain that radiates through to other parts of the body
  • Loss of sensation in the limbs
  • Lack of coordination or weakness in the limbs

California Spine & Pain Institute will only consider this procedure for our patients over 50, who experience severe symptoms from lumbar stenosis, and who have not found relief through more conservative approaches to treatment.

In the interspinous process decompression procedure, a 2 to 3 inch long incision is made in the skin of the lower back, over the area of the spine diagnosed with stenosis. The X-STOP spacer is then inserted between the spinous processes and secured in position.


The IPD procedure is short, relative to other types of back surgery sometimes recommended for stenosis, and typically ranges from about 30 minutes to an hour. California Spine & Pain Institute performs IDP an outpatient basis, and some patients can go home on the same day.

All types of surgery come with risk, and patients considering the IPD procedure should research the possibility of the following complications:

  • The need for additional surgery to relieve pain, which could include removal of the X-STOP implant.
  • Risk of the implant moving out of place.
  • Risk of the implant not being positioned correctly, which can increase pain
  • Fracturing in the spine while the implant is inserted
  • Allergic or foreign body reaction to the implant
  • Mechanical failure of the X-STOP implant
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