Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS)

What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

Spinal Cord Stimulator is a specialized device, which stimulates nerves by tiny electrical impulses via small electrical wires placed on the spinal cord.

Am I a candidate for a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

Spinal Cord Stimulator is offered to patients with chronic and severe pain, who have not responded to other treatment modalities.

What is the purpose of it?

This device interrupts nerve conduction (such as conduction of pain signals) to brain.

How long does the procedure take?

It is done in two stages. In the first stage, temporary wires are placed and an external device is used by the patients to generate electrical current. If this trial is successful in relieving pain, then the permanent device is placed under the skin. Each procedure can take up one to three hours.

How is it actually performed?

The wires are placed under x-ray guidance and a local anesthetic like Lidocaine is used to numb the skin and deeper tissues. The procedure is performed in the operating room to maintain sterility.

Will the procedure hurt?

The procedure involves inserting a needle through skin and deeper tissues (like a “tetanus shot”). So, there is some discomfort involved. However, we numb the skin and deeper tissues with a local anesthetic using a very thin needle prior to inserting the needle. Most of the patients also receive intravenous sedation and analgesia, which makes the procedure easy to tolerate.

Will I be “put out” for this procedure?

The placement of the wires is done under local anesthesia with patients mildly sedated. This is necessary to ensure proper placement of the wires. The amount of sedation given generally depends upon the patient tolerance. For the generator placement, patients are given stronger intravenous sedation.

Where are the wires inserted? Where is the generator placed?

For the pain involving lower back and lower extremities, the wires are inserted in the midline at the lower back. The generator is then placed on the side of the back or upper hip area.

What should I expect after the procedure?

If the procedure is successful, you may feel that your pain may be gone or quite less. You will experience a fairly constant sensation of stimulation. You may have soreness due to the needles used for a day or two.

What should I do after the procedure?

You should have a ride home. We advise the patients to take it easy for a day or so after the procedure. Perform the activities as tolerated by you and follow up at our office 7 days after the procedure.

How long will the generators last?

Depending upon how much the device is used (intensity and duration), the batteries in the generator may last seven to ten years.

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