Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant

Spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is used to relieve many chronic pain conditions such as chronic low back pain, sciatic pain, and complex regional pain syndrome. It uses electrical impulses to prevent pain signals from being perceived by the brain. SCS candidates include people for whom conservative treatments have failed and surgery is not likely to help. The first step is trial implantation. This step is done under monitored care anesthesia; one or more insulated wire leads are inserted near the spinal cord by a needle or through a small incision. This is connected to a temporary stimulator. It will be used for several days or weeks to determine if SCS will help the patient. If pain decreases by 50% during the trial period, the system may be permanently implanted. The second procedure, permanent implantation, is usually performed under general anesthesia. The temporary leads are removed and permanent leads are implanted through a needle or incision. The receiver is implanted under the skin in the buttocks or abdomen. The leads are then connected to the receiver. The power source for the implant may be internal (pulse generator) or external (transmitter and antenna). The implant’s electrical impulses are programmed with external unit. After surgery, patient may experience mild discomfort and swelling at the incision site for several days. Over time, leads may move or become damaged from strenuous activity and require repositioning or replacement.