Spinal Cord Stimulator:

  • Purpose- An alternative treatment for patients who have chronic, intolerable pain and have failed to get adequate relief with other less invasive treatments.
  • Overview-  The spinal cord stimulator is a low voltage procedure used to prevent pain sensations from travelling through the nerve pathways. A spinal cord stimulator (SCS), also known as a dorsal column stimulator, is a device surgically placed under your skin to send a mild electric current to your spinal cord. A small wire carries the current from a pulse generator to the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. When turned on, the stimulation feels like a mild tingling in the area where pain is felt. Your pain is reduced because the electrical current interrupts the pain signal from reaching your brain. There is a trial stage before permanent implantation because the spinal cord stimulator is not for everyone.  Most insurance companies also require a psychological assessment to assess for other confounding factors, and ability to use the equipment. 
  • Before the trial procedure- It is recommended to not eat or drink for six hours prior to the procedure. It is recommended to shower the morning of the procedure with an anti-bacterial soap in order to reduce the risk of infection. Due to the procedure, make travel arrangements to and from the appointment, wear loose clothing, and do not wear jewelry or perfume.
  • Details- The outpatient procedure begins with the patient being connected to monitoring devices for safety and comfort purposes. While the patient is lying on his or her stomach, the physician uses x-ray to place a needle, and then a wire is advanced through the needle.  The system is tested, and based on the testing the wires may be adjusted.  
  • After the trial procedure- A representative from the medical device company will contact you, and make adjustments to do the programming as needed.  3-7 days later you will return to the doctor’s office, and the trial leads (wires) will be removed.  If it gave over 50% relief then you will most likely be scheduled for a permanent placement of a spinal cord stimulator.