Spinal Cord Stimulator

A spinal cord stimulator is a device used to apply pulsed electrical signals to the spinal cord. It is mostly used to control chronic pain.  The simplest spinal cord stimulator consists of multiple components. These include electrodes implanted in the epidural space, a generator implanted in the lower abdominal area or gluteal region, and wires connecting the electrodes to the generator/generator remote control. Spinal cord stimulation can produce substantial analgesia.  Spinal cord stimulators are used in the treatment of failed back surgery syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, and refractory pain due to ischemia.

A trial is important for a variety of reasons. It is a temporary evaluation period to determine if a spinal cord stimulator works before committing to long term therapy. It allows you to assess how well it relieves pain during daily activities.  The trial period is typically between 3-7 days.  The procedure for the spinal cord stimulation trial typically takes 30-90 minutes to complete.   

Complications can occur during the trial, including bleeding into the epidural space, infection, and other side effects. You should not undergo the trial if you have an active infection at the time of the procedure.  At the end of your trial, the Interventional Radiologist will remove the temporary neurostimulation system and discuss your experience during the trial.  There will be a waiting period after the trial. This will give the area in your back time to heal, time for your insurance provider to be notified, and the procedure to be scheduled. If you and your physician decide that spinal cord stimulation is right for you, the system will be implanted through a minimally invasive procedure. The procedure takes 1-3 hours and the length of your recovery will vary depending on you. 

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