Winthrop Neurosurgeon Offers Patients Relief From Severe Chronic Pain With Neurostimulation


Vol. 16, No. 2
Spring/Summer 2006

  • Winthrop Neurosurgeon Offers Patients Relief From Severe Chronic Pain With Neurostimulation

  • Bug Bite & Once Controversial Treatment Saves Father of Six

  • Winthrop's New Arthritis & Rheumatic Disease Center Offers State-Of-The-Art Treatment

  • Winthrop First NY Metro Hospital to Receive the ASA's Initial Performance Achievement Award

  • Fitness Program Gets Young Cancer Patients Back in the Game

  • Hagedorns' Extraordinary Gift Helps Make Miracles Grow Everyday

  • The Miracle Foundation Gives $50,000 in Support of Cancer Center for Kids

  • First Annual Mardi Gras Gala Benefits Cancer Education, Research and Support Services

  • Retired Bank Chairman's Exceptional Generosity Benefits Winthrop's Pediatric Facilities

  • A Smart Way to Give

  • Winthrop Attracts Newest Medical Talent To Residency Program

  • Gifts of Love for Winthrop's Littlest Patients

  • Cardiac Surgeon and Family Donate in Support of Heart Surgery Center Construction

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  • Debra Ventura joyfully holds her grandson, Anthony.
    Debra Ventura had never experienced such excruciating pain.

    "There are no words strong enough to describe the pain I was living with," she explained. "I couldn't even sit or stand still without being overcome with throbbing, shooting pain that ran from my lower back and down the entire length of my right leg."

    In a month, the 49-year-old New Hyde Park resident would become a grandmother. A supposedly joyful time was wrought with anxiety and distress over her debilitation and the looming question of how she would be able to hold her grandchild.

    Ms. Ventura's condition was initially caused by herniated discs that compressed nerve roots in her spine and triggered extreme back and leg pain that radiated down to her foot. While previous surgical procedures eliminated nerve compression, she later developed persistent pain that was even worse than before.

    After prescription pain killers brought no relief and cumulative sleep deprivation had taken its toll, Ms. Ventura found her way to Michael Brisman, MD, Chief of Neurosurgery. Dr. Brisman is wellknown for his expertise in the successful treatment of chronic pain using spinal neurostimulation.

    Spinal neurostimulation is one of a number of emerging neuromodulation therapies that treat neurological problems at their source in order to attain pain relief or symptom relief for certain types of chronic pain and neurological disorders. Spinal neurostimulation can be used to treat pain in the back, neck and extremities from causes such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis and reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Patients with neck or arm pain undergo placement of the neurostimulator in the cervical spine region.

    "For patients who have been experiencing severe, intractable back or leg pain for six months or more, this is a treatment option that really should be considered before more invasive procedures like spinal fusion, which has a long recovery time and may ultimately limit one's range of motion," explained Dr. Brisman.

    Spinal neurostimulation requires two minimally invasive surgeries performed within a span of three to five days. During the first procedure, an inch-and-a-half-long incision is made in the lumbar spine region, where leads (thin cables consisting of metal electrodes) are threaded through a catheter and placed near the lower thoracic region of the spinal cord. The leads are connected by wires to an external battery source that sends electrical impulses to block pain messages to the brain.


    Photo courtesy of Medtronic
    "I felt complete pain relief for the first time in eight years," said Ms. Ventura. "Not only can I hold my beautiful grandson, but also I am able to take him for walks and care for him while my daughter works. It is a priceless gift."

    Once the patient is satisfied with the level of stimulation during a short trial phase, the pocket watch-size neurostimulator is implanted in the abdomen just under the skin during a second ambulatory surgery.

    Its battery can be recharged by periodically placing a charging device that is about the size of a pager over the area of the implant.

    Ms. Ventura added, "My stay at Winthrop was wonderful, efficient and thorough - the doctors and nurses anticipated my every need. I think of Dr. Brisman every single day with gratitude." For more information, please call 1-866-WINTHROP.



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