DAVE WATTS, MD
Spinal Cord Simulation
Patients can suffer from back and leg pain, which can be caused due to many reasons. This pain can either improve with time or it may require a surgery.
The problem with the spinal cord pain can be scar tissues around the nerves, chronic inflammation, or other arachnoiditis issues. If the neurosurgeon decides that the patient needs an open surgery for decompressing the nerves to help reduce the pain, an operational procedure will be used to implant a spinal cord stimulator.
This spinal cord stimulator sends electrical impulses to pain causing areas of the spine. These electrical impulses interfere with pain signals sent to the brain, effectively blocking the brain’s ability to feel pain. Sometimes, the surgeon might implant a permanent stimulator with a battery pack to provide charge to the stimulator.
A surgeon may choose to select from different methods of implanting the stimulator. The surgeon does the initial implantation, ensuring that the patient feels if their own brain is sending the electrical signals to the affected area.
The doctor may place a paddle lead over the spinal cord through a small incision by removing lamina. The surgeon can also make a percutaneous insertion of a lead through the skin. Permanent implant will be placed several days after the initial testing, once the patient has felt good pain relief with the trial simulator.
Usually the doctor discharges the patient the same day or the next day after the procedure. The patient is advised to keep their wounds clean and dry.
Risks Associated with Spinal Cord Simulator
This procedure usually carries low risks for the patient. Some of the risks for the patient may include bleeding, infection, injured spinal cord, paralysis, infection, and in severe cases, death.