First of Its Kind Bionic Pain Control Option Offered at The University of Kansas Hospital

Anesthesiologists Call it “Game Changer”

Technology seen in sci-fi movies is being implemented in the real medical world. For more than 100 million Americans affected by chronic pain, a new FDA-approved neurostimulation treatment can help manage that pain—in many cases without the need for pain medication. Anesthesiologists with The University of Kansas Hospital are among the first nationwide and the only hospital regionally to offer this bionic pain control option which they call a “game changer.”

Deborah Stephens, of Merriam, Kansas, suffered shooting pain down her right leg caused by degenerative disc disease. She was one of the first-ever patients to have the procedure.

 “It’s the first real pain relief I’ve felt in a long, long time,” she said afterward. 

After trying to manage her pain with exercise, medication, and other therapies, Dawood Sayed, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiologist and a pain specialist at the Marc A. Asher Comprehensive Spine Center at The University of Kansas Hospital, offered Deborah 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 around for 20 years, the technology has not been available for patients like Deborah who need frequent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (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,” Talal Khan, MD, associate professor and chairman, department of anesthesiology and director of pain management at the Marc A. Asher Comprehensive Spine Center said. “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.”

This video report shows how Dr. Sayed and Dr. Khan implanted the device into the patient during an outpatient procedure: