What is Spinal Cord Stimulator?
A spinal cord stimulator is a device used to transmit pulsed electrical signals to the spinal cord to control chronic pain. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) consists of:
- Stimulating electrodes or wires, placed in the epidural space,
- Pulse generator, placed in the lower back or buttocks
- Conducting wires connecting the electrodes to the generator
- Generator remote control for controlling the signal by the patient
What is Spinal Cord Stimulator trial?
Before implanting a permanent Spinal Cord Stimulator, a temporary device is placed to assess effectiveness of this therapy. Electrodes are placed in the epidural space and connected to an external generator. If the patient gets good pain relief during the trial period of 5-7 days, the physicians implant a permanent device.
How does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?
One of the theories proposed to explain the mechanism of action of Spinal Cord Stimulation is Gate Control Theory. This theory proposes that non-painful stimulation of spinal cord can result in decreased transmission of painful stimuli in the spinal cord.
Who can benefit from Spinal Cord Stimulator?
Most common indication for Spinal Cord Stimulator is Failed Back Syndrome. Failed Back Syndrome occurs in as many as 40% of patients who have undergone back surgery and results in persistent or recurrent pain. Other patients who might benefit from Spinal Cord Stimulator include patient suffering from neuropathic or nerve pain.
What are the risks and complications?
It is generally a safe procedure. But as with any interventional procedure, it carries a small risk of potential complications such as bleeding, infection, leaking spinal fluid or injury to blood vessels or nerves around the spinal cord. Most common complications are lead migration, lead breakage or infection.