Inflatable neurostimulator for minimally invasive pain control


Researchers at the University of Cambridge created a spinal stimulation device that can help control severe pain. Unlike existing technologies, which require invasive surgery for implantation, the new device can be supplied with a needle. Once implanted, the device unfolds and inflates into place to provide extensive coverage during spinal cord stimulation to control intense pain. Technology could make spinal cord stimulation more accessible to millions of people suffering from chronic pain.

For many patients, chronic pain does not respond to conventional treatments and can be severe and debilitating. For these people, spinal cord stimulation may be an option, by which electricity is used to interrupt pain signals in the spine. However, the procedure used to install the most effective type of spine stimulation devices is invasive, as it requires complex surgery with general anesthesia and many patients are poor candidates for this treatment.

“Spinal cord stimulation is a treatment of last resort, for those with pain so severe that it prevents them from performing daily activities,” said Damiano Barone, a researcher involved in the study, through an ad from Cambridge University. “However, the two main types of spinal cord stimulation devices have defects, which may be one of the reasons their use is limited, even though millions of people struggle every day with chronic pain “.

The latter technology aims to combine minimally invasive delivery with extensive spinal coverage and effectiveness in relieving pain. “Our goal was to do something that was the best of both worlds: a clinically effective device but one that does not require complex, risky surgery,” said Christopher Proctor, another researcher involved in the study. “This could help bring this life-changing treatment option to a lot more people.”

The device is an ultra-thin bag that is rolled into a small cylinder that can fit into a needle. Once delivered to the epidural space, the sac unfolds and can be inflated with water or air to cover an area of ​​the spinal cord. Small electrodes in the swollen structure can supply electrical current to the spinal cord, helping to alter pain signals.

“The way we manufacture the device means we can also incorporate additional components – we could add more electrodes or make it bigger to cover larger areas of the spine with greater accuracy,” Barone said. “This adaptability could make our spinal cord stimulation device a potential treatment for paralysis after spinal cord injuries, stroke, or movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. An effective device not requiring invasive surgery could relieve so many people. “

Here’s a video showing the new expanding device:

Study a Scientific advances: Shape-driven electronics for minimally invasive spinal cord stimulation

Via: Cambridge University

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