Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant

SCS otherwise known as  spinal cord stimulation utilizes electrical impulses to alleviate persistent pain of the back, arms and legs. It is commonly accepted that electrical pulses blocks pain signals from accepted by the brain. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) patients include people who are afflicted with neuropathic pain and for those who failed to respond to conservative treatments.

Trial Implantation

As the injection area is anesthetized, one or a number of insulated wire leads are slid inside an epidural needle or via a small cut into the area surrounding the spinal column otherwise known as the epidural space.

Find the Right Location

An electrode located at the end of the lead generates an electrical pulse that in turn triggers the nerves, which in turn blocks the pain signals.  The patient is encouraged to provide feedback to assist the physician to identify the exact location as to where to position the stimulators to best stop the patient’s pain.  The leads are attached to an external trial stimulator, which in return will be utilized for at least a week to find out if spinal cord simulation will be able to help the patient.

Determine Effectiveness

If the patient and the doctor diagnosed that the amount of pain relief is acceptable, the system may be permanently implanted. At the end of the trial implantation, the leads are removed.

Permanent Implantation

Under anesthesia or while sedated, the permanent implantation can be administered by the doctor. The initial step would be for one or more permanent leads to be inserted via an epidural needle or through a small cut into a predetermined area in the epidural space.

Generator Implantation

As an implantable pulse generator or IPG battery is planted under the skin and is most commonly placed in the abdomen or the buttocks.  The leads then are connected to the IPG.

End of Procedure

With the use of an external wireless programmer, the implant’s electrical pulses are programmed. The program can be done by the patient to adjust the simulation level, turn the system on or off, and switch the implant between different programs. Nevertheless, patients may still experience some discomfort and swelling at the incision area for a number of days.