If a physician prescribes a Spinal Cord Stimulator the patient will first undergo a trial to make sure the device is right for them. The trial is performed by a pain management physician. This procedure is done as an outpatient. Using fluoroscopy (specialized x-ray machine), a special needle will be used to place the temporary leads (specialized wires) in the epidural space. The leads are then connected to an external neurostimulator.
The physician will ask the patient questions during the procedure about the stimulation they are feeling in order to determine if the leads are in the correct area. Once the leads are in the correct location they will be taped to the patients back for the rest of the trial (approximately 3-7 days).
In the recovery room the patient will be shown how to work the external neurostimulator to provide them with maximum relief from pain. The patient will be provided with their equipment representative’s phone number in case they have any questions once they are home.
At the end of the trial period the physician will remove the temporary leads and discuss the patient’s experience. If the physician and the patient feel adequate relief from pain was experienced then surgery will be scheduled for a permanent implant.
The spine surgeon will insert the leads into the epidural space much like the pain management physician did during the trial. An incision will be made to implant the neurostimulator under the patient’s skin. The leads are then connected to the stimulator and the incision is closed.