FDA Approves Advanced Spinal Cord Stimulator

By Pat Anson, Editor

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new spinal cord stimulator developed by Medtronic that can be managed, tracked and updated remotely on a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

The Intellis stimulator is designed for patients with chronic, intractable pain of the trunk and/or limbs.

The Intellis platform can track patient activity 24/7 on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet, enabling physicians to personalize the settings for individual patients and monitor their progress using Medtronic’s Evolve software system. 

"The launch of the Intellis platform isn't just about a new device, but about combining cutting edge hardware with optimal therapy through the Evolve workflow to enable personalized, long-term pain relief," said Marshall Stanton, MD, president of Medtronic's Pain Therapies division.

“The Intellis platform was designed based on what is most important to patients and physicians. We considered the entire patient journey - starting with the primary goal of optimal pain relief and access to important diagnostic tools, like MRI, to ease of use with simplified programming, faster recharge and a smaller implant."



Spinal cord stimulators (SCS) are often considered the treatment of last resort for chronic back and leg pain, because the devices have to be surgically implanted near the spine and connected to batteries placed under the skin. The implants send electrical impulses into the spine to mask pain.

Some patients find the stimulators ineffective and have them removed. According to one study, only about half of patients who received a traditional SCS device have a 50 percent reduction in their back and leg pain. New technologies are being developed to make the devices smaller, more effective and easier to recharge.

Medtronic says Intellis is the world's smallest fully implantable SCS neurostimulator. Its battery can be fully recharged from empty to full in about one hour and physicians can estimate recharge intervals based on therapy settings. Software upgrades are also easier to get through Samsung Galaxy tablets.

"We are excited to partner with Medtronic in their aim to simplify programming, and streamline therapy management with the Intellis platform," said Dr. Dave Rhew, chief medical officer and head of Healthcare and Fitness for Samsung Electronics America. "Samsung's Galaxy tablets-secured by the HIPAA-ready Samsung Knox mobile security platform-will support future Medtronic therapies and over the air (OTA) software upgrades to ensure clinicians using Intellis have access to the most up-to-date solutions."

One of the first implantation procedures using the Intellis platform was performed at Duke University Medical Center.

"Chronic pain is challenging to manage. Having real-time data can provide more information about patients' quality-of-life changes. This platform represents a welcome new option for managing some kinds of chronic pain," said Lance Roy, MD, a pain medicine specialist at Duke University Medical Center.

New Stimulator Delivers Back Pain Relief

By Pat Anson, Editor

A new type of spinal cord stimulator (SCS) provides significantly more relief from chronic back and leg pain than traditional SCS therapy, according to the results of a new study published in the journal Anesthesiology.

The Senza spinal cord stimulator, which recently won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, uses high frequency pulses of 10,000 Hz to mask a patient’s perception of pain. Traditional SCS therapies use frequencies of 40 to 60 Hz.

"This is the first long-term study to compare the safety and effectiveness of high frequency and traditional SCS therapy for back and leg pain," said lead author Leonardo Kapural, MD, professor of anesthesiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and clinical director at the Carolinas Pain Institute.

"Chronic back and leg pain have long been considered difficult to treat and current pain relief options such as opioids have limited effectiveness and commonly known side effects. Given the prevalence of chronic pain, high frequency SCS is an exciting advance for our patients."

image courtesy of nevro

image courtesy of nevro

In a study of 171 patients with implanted SCS devices, 85 percent of those with back pain and 83 percent with leg pain using the Senza HF10 stimulator had a 50% reduction in pain or greater after three months.

Only about half the patients implanted with a traditional SCS device (44% with back pain and 56% with leg pain) experienced that kind of pain relief.

None of the patients in the HF10 therapy group experienced paresthesia – a tingling or buzzing sensation often felt with lower frequency stimulators. They were also more likely to be “very satisfied” with their pain relief (55% versus 32%).

Lower back pain affects about a quarter of the world’s adult population and is the leading cause of disability. Back pain is usually treated with physical therapy or pain relievers.

For chronic back pain, spinal cord stimulators are often the treatment of last resort because the devices have to be surgically placed near the spine and connected to batteries implanted under the skin. The devices send electrical impulses into the spine to mask pain.

The Senza SCS system is made by Nevro (NYSE: NVRO), a medical device company based in Menlo Park, California. Senza has been available in Europe and Australia for the last five years. In May, Senza won approval from the FDA for use in the United States.

MarketsandMarkets, a market research firm based in Dallas, estimates the global market for spinal cord stimulators and other neuromodulation devices could reach $6.8 billion by 2017.