Houston Pain Centers offers the first spinal cord stimulation systems for chronic pain

Houston Pain Centers (HPC) recently announced it is offering patients the first and only implantable, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) compatible neurostimulation (also known as spinal cord stimulation, or SCS) system indicated for use in the treatment of chronic back and/or limb pain.

An estimated 100 million Americans are affected by chronic pain1 and neurost imulat ion treatment has become a mainstay of chronic pain management.

While MRI is a standard of care in the diagnosis and treatment of major health conditions (including cancer, stroke and other neurological problems, etc.), patients with neurostimulation systems implanted to manage their chronic pain were previously denied MRI scans due to concerns about the system being affected by the large magnetic fields and radio frequency (RF)energy involved in MRI.

Drs. Allen W. Burton and Lance S. Smith with Houston Pain Centers are among the first U.S. pain specialists to implant the new Medtronic RestoreSensor® SureScan® MRI with Vectris® SureScan® MRI percutaneous leads, which were recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for body MRI scans under specific conditions.

“The MRI-compatible stimulator from Medtronic that Dr. Smith and I implanted is the most significant advance in spinal modulation therapy in the last decade,” said Dr. Burton. “This device will set the standard for future implantable pain control devices and ensures that patients can still have the MRI needed to provide the best possible care."

“Until now, removal of spinal cord stimulation devices to ensure a safe body MRI scan was unavoidable,” said Dr. Smith. “With this technology, patients who are receiving SCS therapy to manage their chronic pain now have access to the full benefits of MRI scans without compromising their healthcare.”

MRI scans allow physicians to make a wide range of health diagnoses by viewing highly detailed images of internal organs, blood vessels, muscle, joints, tumors, areas of infection and more. MRI utilizes strong magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses to create images of structures inside the body. While CT scans are used for imaging hard materials in the body, like bones, MRI scans are used to image soft tissue.2

As advancements in technology have increased accuracy, effectiveness and patient comfort, MRI use has increased dramatically in recent years. It is estimated that 60 million MRI procedures are performed worldwide each year.3 In the United States, the number of scans has nearly doubled in the past decade, with 32 million scans – more than one MRI per second – performed in 2011.4

Neurostimulation therapy for chronic pain uses a medical device placed under a patient’s skin to deliver mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord, which block pain signals from reaching the brain. Medtronic’s new MRI-compatible neurostimulation systems are specially designed to reduce or eliminate the hazards produced by the MRI environment.

The devices also include a proprietary SureScan feature, which sets the device into an appropriate mode for the MRI environment.


1 Tsang, A., M. Von Korff, S. Lee, J. Alonso, E. Karam, M. C. Angermeyer, G. L. Borges, E. J. Bromet, K. Demytteneare, G. de Girolamo, R. de Graaf, O. Gureje, J. P. Lepine, J. M. Haro, D. Levinson, M. A. Oakley Browne, J. Posada-Villa, S. Seedat,and M. Watanabe. 2008. Common chronic pain conditions in developed and developing countries: Gender and age differences and comorbidity with depression-anxiety disorders. Journal of Pain 9(10):883-891.

2 my-mri/index.htm. Accessed: July 16, 2013.

3 Sutton R, Kanal E, Wilkoff BL, Bello D, et al. Safety of magnetic resonance imaging of patients with a new Medtronic EnRhythm MRI SureScan pacing system: clinical study design. Trials 2008, 9:68.

4 World Bank population data http:// d ata.worl /indicator/SP.POP. TOTL and OECD health data http://www. /health/healthpolic iesand d ata/ OECDHe a l t hDa t a2012Fr e qu e nt lyRe questedData_Updated.xls