Implant relieves pain, is MRI safe

SureScan MRI neurostimulation system


COLUMBUS, Ohio – One hundred million people suffer from chronic pain and some patients only get relief through a stimulator implant, but once the device is in place patients cannot get MRI screenings.  Now, researchers at Ohio State University are one of the first in the nation to implant an MRI safe spinal cord stimulator.   John Garvin says he's got a new pep in his step, thanks to the device.

Simple trips to the mailbox and walking the dog were almost unbearable for Garvin.

"A burning pain is probably the worst type of pain you could have," he said.

Garvin has lived with the pain for more than 20 years. It started in his feet and traveled to his legs.

"II remember his feet sticking out of the sheets and if I happened to accidentally hit his toes, he would just yell really loud," said his wife, Sherry Garvin.

The pain was due to peripheral neuropathy. Garvin shuffled as he walked and quickly wore out his shoe soles.  Researchers at Ohio State University recommended the SureScan MRI neurostimulation system because Garvin would need to continue MRI scans.

"It blocks the impulses going through the spinal cord to the brain," explained Dr. Milind Deogaonkar, Neurologist with Ohio State University and Wexner Medical Center.

The device has a protective coating on the metal and prevents tissue burn. In the past, patients with stimulator implants could not have MRI screenings.

"It kind of absorbs the heat, which generates around the contacts, and spreads it over the length of the lead," Deogaonkar said.

It's allowing doctors to better treat patients.

"I feel a lot better," Garvin said.

"He sleeps with his feet under the covers," said his wife.

Experts say the device will now give millions of patients like John Garvin a chance to walk through life with a little less pain.

It is estimated worldwide 60 million MRI procedures are performed each year.  This stimulator will give thousands of people the opportunity to control their pain, while monitoring other health problems.

Additional Information:

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body.  In many cases, MRIs give different information about the body than can be seen with an ultrasound, X-ray, or computed tomography (CT) scan.  An MRI can be done for many reasons.  It is used to find problems like tumors, bleeding, injury, blood vessel diseases, or infection. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/magnetic-resonance-imaging-mri)

WHY IT IS DONE:  An MRI can be done for the:

  • Head: MRI can look at the brain for tumors, an aneurysm, bleeding in the brain, nerve injury, and other problems, such as damage caused by stroke. 
  • Blood vessels: Using MRI to look at blood vessels and the flow of blood through them is called magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). It can find problems in arteries and veins, such as an aneurysm, a blocked blood vessel, or the torn lining of a blood vessel (dissection).
  • Chest: MRI of the chest can look at the heart, the valves, and coronary blood vessels. It can show if the heart or lungs are damaged.
  • Spine: MRI can check the discs and nerves of the spine for conditions such as spinal stenosis, disc bulges, and spinal tumors.

PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY: This condition is a development of nerve damage that causes numbness, pain, and weakness in the hands and feet, but it is not limited to these areas of the body. The pain is usually described as a burning or tingling sensation. Peripheral neuropathy can occur from traumatic injuries, exposure to toxins, infections, and metabolic issues. However, the most common cause of this condition is diabetes. It has been said that symptoms can improve over time and treatment is available for the pain. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/peripheral-neuropathy/DS00131)

SURESCAN MRI NEUROSTIMULATOR: This device is the first pain therapy neurostimulator that has been FDA approved for full-body MRI scanning. This treatment allows patients to continue to undergo MRI tests, which were impossible before due to interference with the radio frequency and magnetic fields. This is only recommended for those patients who suffer from chronic pain and who need to continuously undergo MRI tests. If a patient has already had a neurostimulation system implanted, then they must place it to MRI mode prior to the MRI scan and it must be turned off after the scan. (Source: http://www.mrisurescan.com/europe/for-patients/spinal-cord-stimulation/at-the-mri-center/index.htm)