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Bionic pain treatment becomes reality

Technology once seen only in science fiction movies is now a medical reality at The University of Kansas Hospital. Anesthesiologists here are among the first in the U.S. to offer a new FDA-approved neurostimulation treatment to help chronic pain sufferers manage their pain, in many cases without medication. The hospital’s specialists call the new bionic pain control option a “game changer.”

Deborah Stephens, Merriam, Kansas, suffered shooting pain down her right leg caused by degenerative disc disease. She was one of the first patients to have the procedure. “It’s the first real pain relief I’ve felt in a long, long time,” Deborah said.  

Dawood Sayed, MD, and Talal Khan, MD, demonstrate how the spinal cord stimulation device was implanted during Deborah’s outpatient procedure.

After trying to manage Deborah’s pain with exercise, medication and other therapies, Dawood Sayed, MD, a pain specialist at the Marc A. Asher, MD, Comprehensive Spine Center, offered the patient an alternative. Dr. Sayed surgically implanted a device known as spinal cord stimulation, or SCS.

While SCS devices inserted under the skin to mask pain have been used for 20 years, the technology has not been available for patients like Deborah who frequently need magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. This new SCS, called SureScan, is MRI-safe.

“MRI is the standard of care in diagnosis and treatment of major health conditions including cancer, stroke and neurological problems,” said Talal Khan, MD, director of pain management at the spine center. “This technology opens wide the door for us to help many more patients in pain without the side effects often associated with narcotics or the risks of multiple surgeries to remove SCS before an MRI.”

Learn more about pain management options at The University of Kansas Hospital’s Marc A. Asher, MD, Comprehensive Spine Center. Or call 913-588-1227.