Spinal Cord Stimulation - Percutaneous Procedure

Du​ring and After Spinal Cord Stimulation – Percutaneous Procedure

Stage 1: The lead is placed around the epidural space (the area under the spinal bones but outside your spinal cord) and the wires are externalized (hanging outside your body). These wires will be used in your trial session. There are two types of trials – percutaneous and tunneled. Most patients who are in these trials are discharged to home the same day as the procedure but some patients may need to stay in the hospital during the trial. Assessment during the trial involves use of validated questionnaires, activity trackers, and imaging modalities to establish improvement in pain, activities, sleep, mood and reduction in use of pain killers. A percutaneous trial ends with removal of the lead whereas a tunneled trial may end with removal of the lead or its internalization as part of a full implant (see stage 2 below).

Stage 2: This stage involves a full implant of spinal cord stimulation and is performed following a successful trial. This stage can occur from within a week (usually following the start of a tunneled trial) to one to months (following the end of a percutaneous trial) after the trial. The SCS device will be turned on after the surgery and adjusted to the programs obtained during your trial phase.

How Long Will Your Surgery Take?

Spinal cord stimulation surgery usually takes 90 minutes to 2 hours.

We do everything that we can to stay on time. Unfortunately, your procedure may be delayed by unforeseen or emergency circumstances.

Discharge Home

You can expect to go home the same day as your procedure.

Before you leave the hospital, a member of your health care team will review:

  • Your medications
  • How to care for yourself, what to watch for and how to get help if you need it. The controller for your spinal cord stimulator and a card which has your device information will be sent home with you. Your SCS device will be turned on before you leave the hospital. If your settings are not the same at home after a couple of weeks, this is ok; they can be adjusted in the clinic.
  • Any follow-up appointments. You will see your pain physician 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery. He/she will check the surgical incisions and adjust your SCS device settings, if they are needed. Make an appointment with your family doctor to have your staples removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.
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Follow these rules for safety when you have a SCS system:

  • Do not have a MRI. Currently the SCS are not MRI safe therefore, if you require a MRI in the future please contact the neurosurgeons office, as the device would have to be removed.​​

Go to the Spinal Cord Stimulation - What to Expect