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Spinal Cord Stimulator

How does a Spinal Cord Stimulator work?

A Spinal Cord Stimulator can be thought of as a "pacemaker" for

pain.  That is, a small implanted device carries tiny electrical

current to thin electrical leads (very thin, flexible plastic coated wires) which are placed into an area in the spinal canal above the spinal cord called the epidural space.  These tiny currents stimulate nerves which then send signals to the brain that in effect modify the pain signals and replace pain with a mild, non-painful tingling sensation.  This tingling sensation is generally quite mild and over

time may become imperceptible.


When other therapies and surgeries fail to control pain, when surgery is not indicated, or when a patient has other medical reasons that surgery cannot be performed, spinal cord stimulation may be a valuable option to control pain. It is also useful for 

conditions where no effective surgery or other treatment exists.  Additionally, there is the added benefit that the device may be temporarily tried in  order to see how well it works in any patient prior to implantation.

The Trial Period

To trial the treatment, the leads are placed into the epidural space

through a needle and guided to a specific site to provide stimulation

of nerves specific to your area of pain.  This is a short procedure

which allows temporary placement of the leads without implanting

the small electrical "pulse generator/battery" under the skin.  The 

leads are then anchored to the skin with one or two sutures and a

small dressing is applied to the skin over the exiting leads.  The 

leads are then attached to a small device about the size of a silver

dollar that is worn under clothes on a thin, light velcro belt.  The 

patient is discharged home shortly after the procedure, and trials

the device for several days to see how well their pain is controlled

with every day activity.  The patient will return to the physican's

office after a several day trial period, and the leads are easily

removed in a matter of seconds after simply cutting the sutures

which hold them to the skin.  This short procedure is done without

any incision under local anesthesia or mild sedation.

Permanent Implantation

If the trial was successful in significantly reducing a patient's pain,

the patient may opt to return to the operating room to have the

leads and "signal generator/battery" inserted permanently under

the skin in a location where it will not be noticed or obtrusive, 

generally under the upper buttock.

spinal cord stimulator

The Spinal Cord Stimulator System

spinal cord stimulator

Puse Generator/Battery

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