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Spinal Cord Stimulator Placement

What Is Spinal Cord Stimulator Placement?

Spinal Cord Stimulator PlacementPlacement of a spinal cord stimulator consists of electrical leads and a battery. Placement of the stimulator requires two separate incisions. One in the mid-back, and one in the region above the buttock. Once the incision in the back has been made a small portion of bone is removed, exposing the spinal cord. The spinal cord stimulator leads are then placed under the bone, directly on the surface of the spinal cord. The leads are then passed under the skin to the region above the buttock where they are connected a battery.

After surgery, patients usually stay overnight.

Risks of the procedure are bleeding, infection, lead migration spinal cord injury (which may cause leg weakness, numbness and difficulty walking), failure to relieve pain.

The stimulator is usually turned on 2 weeks after surgery.

Patients are encouraged not to perform any twisting, bending, or heavy lifting for 3 weeks. This allows the stimulator to settle in place.

Who Are Candidates For Spinal Cord Stimulators?

Spinal cord stimulators are generally indicated for patients with back and leg pain that has failed other methods of pain control and had a successful spinal cord stimulator trial. Most patients have had back surgery in the past, and others may have other chronic pain syndromes.

Risks And Possible Complications

As with any surgery, there are small, but possible complications. For spinal cord stimulators these include:

  • Weakness, numbness, new or worse pain
  • Paralysis
  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs
  • Infection requiring spinal cord stimulator removal
  • Bleeding
  • Malposition of the spinal cord stimulator lead
  • Spinal cord stimulator lead migration
  • Persistent pain despite placement of the spinal cord stimulator

There Are 4 Possible Outcomes From Any Surgery

  • Your symptoms or pain may be completely improved.
  • Your symptoms or pain may be partially improved.
  • Your symptoms or pain may be the same as before surgery.
  • Your symptoms or pain may be worse than before surgery.

After Surgery

You may have some soreness at the incision site immediately after surgery and will be encouraged to rest. However, you will be encouraged to walk the next day.


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