Dorsal Column Stimulators
A dorsal column stimulator (DCS) is a surgically implanted device used for the management of certain chronic pain syndromes. Its two main components include a pulse generator and surgical leads.
The DCS works by sending a mild electrical current to the dorsal column — the posterior segment of the spinal cord. The electrical current is then modified and masks certain pain signals from reaching your brain.
Prior to scheduling a procedure for permanent DCS placement, you will undergo what’s known as a “DCS trial” in order to determine the potential effectiveness of the device.
Depending on your medical condition, you may need clearance from your primary care physician or another specialist, such as a cardiologist. Certain medications may need to be stopped prior to surgery as well.
Preoperative blood work and testing are also required several days before the scheduled procedure.
Surgical Incisions and Recovery
During the surgery, a total of two incisions are made at the mid-back and flank areas. The incisions can be closed with surgical adhesives, sutures, or staples. Surgical staples and sutures will be removed during your postoperative visit in our clinic. Adhesive strips may be applied after staple removal to bring the edges of an incision together. These strips should be kept completely dry for the first 24 hours, and usually fall off within 7-10 days.
After hospitalization, you will be released to either your home or a rehab facility, depending on your condition. A follow-up appointment in our clinic will then be scheduled, and you will be prescribed narcotic pain medications to be used for a limited time frame. We recommend that our patients drink lots of water and eat high-fiber foods to prevent constipation that can often occur from these medications. Over-the-counter laxatives and stool softeners can be used, if needed, as well.
You will also have certain physical restrictions for approximately six weeks to prevent lead displacement.
What You Can Do to Help with Recovery
We strongly encourage our patients to quit all tobacco use, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigar pipes, chewing tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. The nicotine in these products decreases blood circulation, which in turn slows the healing of wounds and increases the risk of postoperative infection.