About Peripheral Nerve Stimulator Placement
Peripheral nerve stimulation is a minimally invasive treatment for pain within a peripheral nerve distribution. The technique is known as trigeminal branch stimulation when the electrodes are placed along the trigeminal nerve. This nerve supplies sensation to the face, and is commonly involved in a number of different facial pain conditions. Trigeminal branch stimulation can be an excellent option to treat the pain associated with these disorders.
Stimulator placement uses incredibly thin metal wires called electrodes that are placed underneath the skin and lead to the affected nerve(s). Their function is to deliver mild electrical signals to stimulate and disrupt the “misfiring” of nerve impulses that can cause pain and discomfort. Placement does not require the more extensive surgery associated with some facial pain treatments. It also typically performed as an outpatient procedure.
Are You a Good Candidate for Stimulator Placement?
If you’ve explored other options for facial pain treatment and have found that options such as microvascular decompression, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery or percutaneous rhizotomy are not ideal for one reason or another (for example, you may have trigeminal neuralgia that is not caused by nerve compression), pain stimulator placement may be a good option. It’s an excellent option for those that cannot undergo general anesthesia or may experience other postoperative complications.
Another added benefit of stimulator placement is that it allows you to preserve full nerve function, unlike some procedures such as percutaneous rhizotomy, which relies on a slight damaging of the nerve to slow or eliminate the rogue nerve impulses.
How Stimulator Placement Is Performed
Stimulator placement is a straightforward procedure that requires only local anesthetic and mild sedation. Local anesthesia is performed by injecting a numbing agent into the area or areas that require manipulation. This type of anesthetic regimen allows for a quick and generally comfortable recovery.
You will begin the procedure by lying in a comfortable position on your back. The site on your face where the electrode will be inserted is prepped — it will be cleansed (and shaved if necessary) then numbed with a local anesthetic.
Your doctor will use a needle to place the electrode under your skin. The electrode is not externally visible once it is placed. Your doctor will check the positioning with an X-ray to ensure the electrode is in the proper location to effectively treat your pain and discomfort.
When proper placement is verified, the electrode will be connected to a small external device known as an external stimulator. This device is what delivers the electrical signals via the electrode. You will be able to control not only the frequency of the impulses but also the intensity through this device.
You will be given thorough instructions on how to use your stimulator in the Recovery Room, and then you will go home. This system will be in place for a 1-week trial period, so you can assess whether trigeminal branch stimulation helps your facial pain. After you finish your trial period, you will return to the doctor’s office, where he will remove the temporary device. At that time you can decide if a permanent stimulator would be a good option for you.
If you choose to have the permanent system implanted, then you will need to undergo a second procedure. This procedure is similar to the trial procedure, but the electrodes are instead tunnelled under the skin to an implantable battery that is placed just under the skin below the collarbone. This procedure is typically done under general anesthesia, although it can be done with a local anesthetic with sedation when necessary.
Recovery From Stimulator Placement
Recovery from stimulator placement is usually a short process — because it is minimally invasive. You can expect some swelling and soreness along the face, the wire, or battery site. Most patients find that the stimulator requires a number of reprogrammings during the healing process, as the stimulation can change in the weeks after surgery. This is a normal part of the healing process.
Why Choose Neurosurgeons of New Jersey?
Your ability to function on a daily basis depends solely on your health and well-being. If something is disruptive, such as the occurrence of facial pain, it can turn your entire life upside down. At times, it can even be difficult to get doctors, much less those around you, to understand the debilitating effects a pain disorder can have on you.
The doctors and staff at Neurosurgeons of New Jersey recognize the devastating effects facial pain can have on your day-to-day life. This is why they seek out only the best and most experienced in the industry.
At Neurosurgeons of New Jersey, you will find that each member of the team, from front office staff to neurosurgeons practice with the highest level of compassion and understanding. They are always more than happy to answer any questions you may have and will be with you each step of the way. Let Neurosurgeons of New Jersey help you get back to the pain-free life you deserve to be living.