Spine zapper "fixes" backs

Spine zapper 'fixes' backs: New device using high-frequency electrical pulse to revolutionise back pain treatmentSpinal cord stimulator sends electrical pulses through the spineNevro is 200 times more powerful than current stimulators

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 29 December 2012

A new device that sends a high-frequency electrical pulse through the spine could revolutionise the treatment of severe back pain, according to a new study.

A team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London, is the first in the world to implant the Nevro spinal cord stimulator in 100 patients who would otherwise need surgery to stop their back pain.

The device is less invasive than surgery and cheaper. The US-made Nevro is 200 times more powerful than current NHS spinal cord stimulators, which use an electrical pulse to combat pain.

Pain in the back: The new device sends high-frequency electrical pulses through the spine

Pain in the back: The new device sends high-frequency electrical pulses through the spine to aid severe back pain

Dr Adnan Al-Kaisy, consultant in pain management, who led the Nevro study, said: ‘This new high-frequency version goes beyond what previous devices could do to give immediate pain relief without any tingling.

‘And we used to have to talk to the patient in the middle of the operation to make sure where they were feeling the tingling sensations. With the Nevro device, they can sleep.’

Patients have a wire, connected to a battery pack, inserted into their epidural space. If the electrical current that is emitted stops their pain, they will have this wire removed and replaced by the full Nevro implant.

The 15,000 implant is switched on using a remote control and patients can use it for up to two hours at a time.

Study in pain: Guy's hospital in London is trialling the machine on 100 patients

Study in pain: Guy's hospital in London is trialling the machine on 100 patients

‘Patients have no idea whether other kinds of surgery will work, whereas with the Nevro they know what to expect,’ says Dr Al-Kaisy. ‘We give them a trial of the device before going ahead with a permanent implant.’

The procedure will not work for everyone, however. One in three won’t be suitable because previous surgeries have complicated their condition, or their pain is too widespread.

Of those who do have Nevro implants, half will have a successful result.

Patients accepted for a trial of the device are also required to undergo a residential course at Guy’s and St Thomas’, which involves cognitive behaviour therapy, relaxation and learning to reduce their pain medication.

‘The sky is the limit as to how many patients we could treat every year, so long as we have the resources and access to an operating theatre,’ says Dr Al-Kaisy.