Prof. Dr. Erkan Kaptanoğlu

Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is a system that prevents the patient from feeling pain by stimulating a very thin electrode placed at the back of the spinal cord. It can be used when patients with back and leg pain do not benefit from physical therapy, analgesic treatment, surgical intervention and other medical treatments and the pain persists. It can be applied especially to patients with chronic pain who have undergone back surgery or traumatic spinal cord injury but whose pain persists despite medical treatment.

When and for which patients is it applied?

It can be applied especially to patients whose pain does not go away after spine surgery, whose new magnetic resonance and computed tomography examinations do not reveal any surgical pathology and who do not have other diseases that may cause pain. SCS is not preferred for patients who have never undergone surgery and have spinal problems. In these cases, the disease causing the pain should be treated.

Treatment procedures

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) can be performed with open and closed surgery. In patients who have undergone surgery on the spine where the electrode is planned to be implanted, the spinal canal is opened and the electrode is implanted during open surgery. In closed surgery, the electrode is advanced to the spinal canal through a small incision in the skin and placed there. After these electrodes are implanted, the other ends are taken out of the skin and fixed to the battery. This is the first stage of the surgery and then a trial period begins. It is usually observed whether the battery is beneficial for the patient during the trial period of 2-3 weeks. If not, the electrodes are removed and the procedure is abandoned. If the SCS is beneficial, the second stage of the surgery is performed and the permanent battery is placed under the skin on the side of the abdomen instead of the trial battery. There are rechargeable and non-rechargeable types of batteries. Rechargeable batteries last longer and average 8-9 years. The life of non-rechargeable batteries is 4-5 years on average. Expired batteries are replaced with a short procedure.

What should be the expectations for Spinal Cord Stimulation?

The expectation for patients undergoing Spinal Cord Stimulation is usually that their pain will be greatly reduced. Sometimes the pain may be reduced to a more tolerable level and it may be possible to discontinue or reduce the use of multiple medications. Complete relief of pain is less expected.

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