Spinal Cord Stimulator
About this Surgery
Used to treat: Chronic Pain
Spinal cord stimulation (neurostimulation) is a procedure in which an electrical current is used to alleviate chronic back or leg pain. It involves the implantation of a small pulse generator that transmits electrical impulses to the spinal cord, which in turn blocks the nerve signals to the brain responsible for the pain.
Neurostimulation delivers low-voltage electrical stimulation to the spinal cord or targeted peripheral nerve to block the sensation of pain.
One theory on how this technology works, the Gate Control Theory of pain developed by researchers Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall, proposes that neurostimulation activates the body's pain inhibitory system. According to this theory, there is a gate in the spinal cord that controls the flow of noxious pain signals to the brain. The theory suggests that the body can inhibit these pain signals or "close the gate" by activating certain non-noxious nerve fibers in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. The neurostimulation system, implanted in the epidural space (the space outside the dura, or covering of the spinal cord, through which the spinal nerves extend into the rest of the body), stimulates these pain-inhibiting nerve fibers, masking the sensation of pain with a tingling sensation (paresthesia).
Spinal cord stimulation may be appropriate for the management of severe, chronic back pain.
There are two types of neurostimulation systems: one that is completely internal (surgically implanted) and one with both internal and external components. Each neurostimulation system consists of:
- One or two leads which deliver electrical stimulation to the spinal cord or targeted peripheral nerve
- An extension wire which conducts electrical stimulation from the power source to the lead
- A power source which generates the electrical stimulation
Both the power source (battery) and leads are surgically implanted for an internal system. A system with both internal and external components typically consists of a radiofrequency receiver and leads that are implanted and a power source that is worn externally. Batteries typically must be replaced every two to five years.
Please keep in mind that all treatments and outcomes are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, and bowel or bladder problems are some of the potential adverse risks of surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results and other important medical information.