St Jude Medical Inc, St Paul, Minn reports the first patient implant of an Eon Mini, the world’s smallest, longest-lasting, rechargeable neurostimulator to treat chronic pain of the trunk or limbs and pain from failed back surgery.

A 26-year-old patient was implanted with the neurostimulator, a medical device which is slightly larger than a US silver dollar. Similar in function and appearance to a cardiac pacemaker, the neurostimulator delivers mild electrical pulses to the spinal cord, which interrupt or mask the pain signals’ transmission to the brain.

The patient, Adam Hammond, is a former member of the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team. Hammond was skydiving while on leave in 2006 when his parachute did not deploy correctly. He hit the ground in excess of 45 miles an hour.

“As soon as I hit the ground, I thought, ‘God, please don’t let me die,’” said Hammond of Chillicothe, Ohio, whose numerous injuries included a broken femur, shattered pelvis, and a severed spine. He spent the next 2 years undergoing multiple surgeries and physical therapy, but chronic pain from his injuries impacted his rehabilitation.

“Neurostimulation helps us control Adam’s pain so he can continue his rehabilitation and decrease his pain medications,” said Tim Deer, MD, president and CEO, Center for Pain Relief in Charleston, WVa. “Our main goal is to use spinal cord stimulation to help him return to his everyday activities and become a vital part of society again.”

The neurostimulator has a thin 10 mm profile and weighs 29 grams (approximately 1 ounce). Its small size allows for a smaller incision, giving the physician increased control and flexibility in selecting the implant location.

Even with its small size, neurostimulator has the longest-lasting battery life of any rechargeable spinal cord stimulation (SCS) device in its class. It is the only small rechargeable neurostimulator to receive a 10-year battery life approval by the FDA. For patients this means the device should provide sustainable therapy and maintain a reasonable recharge interval for 10 years of use at high settings. The device’s battery longevity may also mean that patients require fewer battery replacement surgeries.

Because the charging system is fully portable, the neurostimulator allows patients the freedom to comfortably recharge the device’s battery while taking a walk, cooking a meal or shopping.

“I already have significant pain relief,” said Hammond. “I’m now able to walk twice as far, and I recently went to the movies with my best friend. It feels good to start getting my life back.”

Pain is a serious and costly public health issue, and it remains largely under-treated and misunderstood. According to the National Institutes of Health, 90 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. The American Pain Foundation estimates that chronic pain costs approximately $100 billion per year in lost work time and health care expenses.

More than 35,000 patients in 35 countries have been implanted with St Jude Medical neurostimulation systems. More information is provided on the Web site. The neurostimulator has received FDA and European CE Mark approvals and will be available in fall 2008.

St Jude Medical develops medical technology and services that focus on putting more control into the hands of those who treat cardiac, neurological, and chronic pain patients worldwide. The Advanced Neuromodulation Systems Division is dedicated to the design, development, manufacturing, and marketing of implantable neuromodulation systems.

[Source: Newswise]