Emory Healthcare among First in Georgia to Treat Patients with New Spinal Cord Stimulator for Chronic Pain

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Emory Healthcare is the first hospital system in North Georgia to offer patients access to a new spinal cord stimulator to help relieve chronic pain. The FDA-approved device, known as the Intellis System, is the world's smallest implantable spinal cord neurostimulator.

The first Emory device was successfully implanted at Emory Johns Creek Hospital in October and is also currently being used by Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center.

"This technology can play a major role in getting patients off opiates and other pain medications which is a big focus in the medical community and in society today," says Gerald Rodts, MD, chief of the Division of Spine Surgery in the Department of Neurosurgery at Emory School of Medicine.

The tiny, high-tech device is used to alleviate chronic pain of the low back and legs caused by degenerative spine problems, spinal injuries, complications or side-effects of previous spine surgeries, scoliosis and other spine deformities, nerve or spinal cord injuries.

The device consists of two components, including an electrode placed in the middle of the back through a small incision or needle which is in contact with the lining of the spinal cord. The second piece is a thin, light-weight battery positioned under the skin in the lower back. It delivers mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord, to interrupt pain signals that travel between a patient's spinal cord and brain.

The Intellis platform is equipped with a tablet using wireless programming and a neurostimulator that can track patient activity around the clock to follow their progress.

The system charges the device's battery faster, in just 45 minutes compared to older neurostimulators that take several hours. It also boasts improved battery performance and offers MRI technology that allows MRI scans anywhere on the body, under certain conditions.