Spine Implant

A Spine Implant, also known as a Spinal Cord Stimulator, is one of two different types of implantable devices that can be implanted into the body to block the transmission of pain up the spine. The other type of device is known as a pain pump, which is also known as an intrathecal drug pump, which decreases pain levels by entirely different processes. Both of these treatments have shown to decrease pain levels when both conservative treatments and even back surgeries have failed. Before comparing the two different types of implantable devices, we will take a closer look at how a spine implant works, how it is inserted, and how it is maintained.

Parts of a Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant: The main parts of this apparatus include a pulse generator, programmer, lead, and electrodes.

Overview: A spinal cord stimulator is a system where electrical stimulation is delivered directly to the epidural space in order to block the transmission of pain. with this system, a pulse generator is permanently embedded in the body tissue. A lead is drawn away from the pulse generator, where it makes its way through the body tissues, and into the spine. an electrode is attached to the end of this lead and inserts directly into the epidural space of the spinal cord. The epidural space is also the site of the delivery of medicine for women who are in labor and intrathecal drug pumps. The electrical pulse generator is usually implanted in the abdominal area or gluteal region, after a trial period that involves a temporary unit is successful. This treatment may be used after several other treatments have proven unsuccessful, including back surgery. This treatment may also be considered when there is concern about narcotic pain medications that the patient was using, including possible dependence and addiction. This form of treatment may be considered for conditions that involve chronic, severe back pain, including refractory pain due to ischemia, complex regional pain syndrome, and failed back surgery syndrome.

The theory behind this treatment is that the delivery of these electrical signals to the epidural space will block the transmission of pain signals from traveling beyond the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. The interruption of the pain signal prevents it from traveling up the spinal cord, and to the centers of the brain that receive and interpret pain signals. This treatment, if successful, may help to treat nerve pain that results from compression and irritation of the nerves roots and nerve branches, as well as the nerves of the spinal cord that transmit pain as a result of spinal stenosis.

Trial Application: For the trial implantation, the injection site is anesthetized. Next a temporary lead is drawn through the skin, from the outside of the body. The end of this lead will include an electrode that is guided into, and remains, in the epidural space of the spinal cord. The doctors will test out the system with the patient present and alert, to determine if the stimulation is producing the desired results. Once the correct site of insertion is determined, the lead will be connected to an external stimulator, where this external system will be used for approximately one week. After the 1 week trial period, the patient and doctor will meet together to determine whether to install a permanent system.