Mayfield Brain & Spine surgeons among first to implant MRI-compatible spinal cord stimulator

CINCINNATI– Three Mayfield Brain & Spine neurosurgeons are among the first in the nation to implant a new-generation spinal cord stimulator for chronic pain. The spinal cord stimulator, which delivers safe and effective therapy for managing chronic pain of the trunk or limbs, is the first system of its kind to allow access to an MRI scan on any part of the body.

Mayfield’s George Mandybur, MD, Tann Nichols, MD, and Steven Bailey, MD, have all begun implanting the newest iteration of the RestoreSensor SureScan™ stimulator, which is marketed by Medtronic, Inc.

Candidates for spinal cord stimulators are people who have experienced pain for three months or more and have not gained relief from conventional treatment or physical therapy.

"Spinal cord stimulators offer an important alternative to oral pain medications for chronic, long-term pain," says Dr. Nichols, who sees patients at his office in Northern Kentucky. "While oral pain medications are appropriate for managing acute pain, including post-surgical pain, they can be detrimental and can lead to mis-use in situations where pain is chronic."

"Spinal cord stimulation therapy is considered a mainstay of chronic pain management," says Dr. Bailey, who sees patients at his office in Northern Kentucky. "Research has found that spinal cord stimulation provides patients with significant and sustained reduction in back and leg pain and improved ability to participate in activities of daily living."

spinal cord stimulator

A spinal cord stimulator system includes a pacemaker-like neurostimulator that delivers mild electrical impulses to an area near the spine via wires (leads). The electrical impulses interrupt pain signals and prevent them from reaching the brain. Used in the treatment of chronic pain since the 1970s, spinal cord stimulators have been continually updated and improved to optimize quality of life for patients.

SureScan™ MRI systems that utilize a percutaneous lead – one that is inserted through the skin -- have been implanted throughout the country for the past two years. The newer version implanted by Mayfield surgeons utilizes a surgical/paddle lead, which requires more invasive surgery but provides improved pain coverage and is less apt to migrate within the patient’s spine.

The SureScan™ stimulator incorporates AdaptiveStim™ and RestoreSensor™ technologies, which harness motion sensor technology to automatically adapt stimulation levels to the needs of people with chronic pain in the back and/or leg. RestoreSensor™ frees patients from continually making manual adjustments to stimulation levels as they move about during the day.

The SureScan™ stimulator also will be implanted in patients by Arthur Arand, MD, who practices in Fairfield, Middletown, and West Chester, Ohio, and Brad Curt, MD, who practices in West Chester and Middletown, Ohio.

A candidate for pain stimulation undergoes a spinal cord stimulator trial, which involves: 1) the careful insertion of electrodes through the skin and into the epidural space, the outermost portion of the spinal canal; and 2) the placement of the pulse generator and battery pack in a temporary position on the patient’s belt or clothing, like a pager.

If the stimulator effectively reduces pain, the electrodes are then surgically anchored and the battery pack and generator surgically implanted under the skin in the abdominal area or buttock, so that all wiring is internalized. Because the battery pack itself shifts while the wound is healing, the sensor stimulator is not programmed until a month after surgery.

"Implanting the SureScan™ is exactly the same as implanting its technological predecessors," says Dr. Mandybur, who implants dozens of spinal cord stimulators in patients each year. "There is no change in the surgical techniques, and there is no increased risk to the patient."

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Mayfield Brain & Spine is the full-service patient care provider of the Mayfield Clinic, one of the nation's leading physician organizations for neurosurgical treatment, education, and research. With more than 20 specialists in neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and pain management, Mayfield Brain & Spine treats 20,000 patients from 35 states and 13 countries in a typical year. Mayfield physicians specialize in the treatment of back and neck pain, sciatica, Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, NPH, epilepsy, brain and spinal tumors, stroke, moyamoya, brain aneurysms, Chiari malformation, scoliosis, kyphosis, facial pain, facial twitch, trauma, concussion, spinal cord injury, and carpal tunnel. As leading innovators in their field, Mayfield physicians have pioneered surgical procedures and instrumentation that have revolutionized the medical art of neurosurgery for spinal diseases and disorders, brain tumors, and neurovascular diseases and disorders. Learn more at mayfieldclinic.com.