Neuropathy: MRI-safe Devices for Pain Implanted


Neurosurgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are among the first in the United States to successfully implant an MRI-safe spinal cord stimulator to help patients suffering from chronic back or limb pain.

Neurosurgeons Dr. Ali Rezai and Dr. Milind Deogaonkar performed the surgery to help relieve intense foot pain due to a peripheral neuropathy that 78-year-old John Garvin of Worthington, Ohio, has suffered for more than 20 years. Garvin is among the estimated 100 million Americans living with chronic pain, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

For some patients, such as Garvin, relief comes only through a stimulator device implanted near the spine to help block pain signals to the brain. These stimulators have been used for years, but in the past, once they were implanted, patients could no longer receive Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screenings. That worried Garvin, who has needed MRI scans in the past.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the RestoreSensor SureScan MRI neurostimulation system, for use in the treatment of chronic, intractable back or limb pain for conditionally safe full-body MRI scans, under specific conditions.

"The ability to safely perform MRI scans after spinal cord stimulator implant is an important advance and a major benefit for our patients," said Rezai. "Now, with this new capability, we are able to perform MRI scans of the body for our patients who have implants and that provides a better way for patients to be managed over time."

MRI scans have become a diagnostic standard of care, allowing physicians to detect a wide range of health conditions by viewing highly detailed images using strong magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses to create images of structures in the body. Worldwide, it is estimated that 60 million MRI procedures are performed each year, including an estimated 32 million in the United States.

"MRI examinations are necessary and routinely performed for diagnosis and clinical care. It is very likely that a patient with chronic pain, spinal disease, neurological and orthopedic disorders will require an MRI scan," said Rezai. "These spinal cord stimulators can help patients who suffer from extreme back, leg and extremity pain, especially those patients who have failed all previous medications and other approaches to get improvements in their pain and quality of life and functioning.

Ohio State neurologist Dr. John Kissel, who has treated Garvin for almost two decades, said he suggested Garvin for the surgery because multiple medications were no longer helping to relieve foot and leg pain caused by his diabetic neuropathy.

"The stimulator will improve his life by reducing his pain, increasing his ability to do routine activities, and hopefully lowering his need for medications," Kissel said.; Source: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center