Test drive SCS

Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial

The SCS Trial: What You Need To Know

SCS treatment is performed in two steps. The first step is the 3-7 day trial that allows patients to test drive Spinal Cord Stimulation device before moving forward with permanent implantation. The trial starts with a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that places temporary leads near the spine and an external device outside the body. During the trial we are looking for about a 50% improvement in pain and overall functionality. If this is achieved, patients can proceed to the permanent implantation.

Step One: Define Your Pain Relief Goals

Going into an SCS trial it is important to set realistic list of goals for what pain relief and functionality you would like to achieve through the SCS trial. These goals will help to indicate whether a trial has been successful. It will also help our doctors to personalize your treatment so that you receive an optimal level of stimulation. 

Here are some examples of goals:

  • I want to be able to sleep long or stand for a longer period of time
  • I want to be able to climb a flight of stairs or get mail from my mailbox
  • I want to play with my kids or grandkids

Step Two: The Trial Procedure

The Trial  procedure can be done by IV sedation or local anesthetic. We use an X-ray helps to guide needles into the appropriate area of the spine. The Electrode leads are then advanced through the needle to a targeted area of the spine. We will then apply stimulation in order to confirm that the affected  areas are receiving the appropriate amount of stimulation. Once the location is confirmed then the needles are removed and the electrodes are taped to the back. No incision and no sutures are used.

After the procedure you will be taken to a recovery room and your device will then be programmed to find an optimal setting for pain relief. It is common for patient feel a discomfort in the area where the temporary leads were placed. This discomfort should go away with hours or days after the procedure.

Step Three: Manage From Home

The trial will last 3-7 days. This will be an opportunity for you to see if your pain relief goals are now possible through SCS therapy. We recommend no baths or showers during this time to protect from infection. If there are any concerns, questions, or issues, the patient can contact our office or a Medtronic representative.

A Few Things to Remember:

  • Review and follow trial instructions about activities to avoid. 
  • Try to participate is activities that you have been avoiding because of pain.
  • Keep the device dry (the external system is not waterproof)
  • Be patient, it make take a few days for the effects to be fully experienced.

Step Four: Permanent Implant

When the trial ends we will remove the temporary leads and discuss your list of goals to see if enough pain relief and functionality was achieved.  If the trial was successful then we can refer you to a surgeon within our network or you can use your own surgeon.

Over the years we have developed a network of the best Spinal Cord Stimulation surgeons in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. These surgeons have a vast amount of experience with Spinal Cord Stimulation procedures. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few frequent questions that we get about SCS therapy. If you don't see your question here then you can ask us directly using the link here.

Will my insurance company cover treatment?

Yes. Most insurance companies cover this treatment for post-laminectomy syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, diabetic painful neuropathy.

Is the SCS Trial as effective as an implanted device?

Yes. The goal for the stimulator trial is to assess pain relief and improvement to functionality. We are looking for 50% or greater improvement. If the trial was successful, then the permanent implant should be successful as well.

Can I receive an MRI Scan?

Yes these devices are now MRI compatible. We make sure that we choose the correct device for specific medical conditions that may need further imaging.

Will I need another surgery to replace SCS stimulator?

Devices with rechargeable batteries that are at the end of their service life will send an alert that a replacement is needed. The device will still work during this time, but it is time to contact your doctor get a replacement.

Can I control the stimulation?

Yes, the stimulator can controlled by the patient using a programmer that acts as a remote control.

Can I travel or move to another part of they country?

Yes, you can travel and move to another part of the country. We utilize international companies and have customer service reps throughout the country.

How do I recharge the device?

The devices have rechargeable battery as well as non rechargeable options.

The rechargeable battery has an external charger that the patient wears around their waist. And to charge the device.

Do I need a psych evaluation to proceed?

Once a patient has been identified for an SCS trial, then next step is to obtain authorization from the insurance company. This authorization process may require a psychiatric evaluation, which we can facilitate.

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Your quality of life is greatly effected if you’re suffering from agonizing back pain, neck pain, throbbing headaches or facial pain. Fortunately you don’t have to live in chronic daily pain. We can help.