Spinal cord stimulation (also called SCS) uses
electrical impulses to relieve chronic pain of the
back, arms and legs. It is believed that electrical
pulses prevent pain signals from being received by
the brain. SCS candidates include people who
suffer from neuropathic pain and for whom
conservative treatments have failed.
Electrodes at the end of the lead produce electrical
pulses that stimulate the nerves, blocking pain
signals. The patient gives feedback to help the
physician determine where to place the stimulators
to best block the patient's pain. The leads are
connected to an external trial stimulator, which will
be used for approximately one week to determine if
SCS will help the patient.
If the patient and the physician determine that the
amount of pain relief is acceptable, the system may
be permanently implanted. At the end of the trial
implantation, the leads are removed.
The permanent implantation may be performed
while the patient is under sedation or general
anesthesia. First, one or more permanent leads are
inserted through an epidural needle or a small
incision into the predetermined location in the
Next, a small incision is created, and the
implantable pulse generator (IPG) battery is
positioned beneath the skin. It is most often
implanted in the buttocks or the abdomen. The
leads are then connected to the IPG battery.
The implant’s electrical pulses are programmed
with an external wireless programmer. The patient
can use the programmer to turn the system on or
off, adjust the stimulation power level and switch
between different programs.
After SCS Implantation
After surgery, patients may experience mild
discomfort and swelling at the incision sites for
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