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Local doctor reacts to number of spinal cord stimulator injury reports filed

TUCSON- Last week, NBC released a report on the tens of thousands of spinal cord stimulator injury reports filed since 2008.

Local neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Christiano is no stranger to the spinal cord stimulator and advises patients to not be alarmed with the report.

“On average I probably do between 150 to 200 spinal cord simulations a year,” said Dr. Christiano.

A spinal cord stimulator is an electrically implanted device that helps reduce people’s pain by utilizing a part in the nervous system with the press of a button.

His team contacted News 4 Tucson after a report aired on NBC News about more than 80,000 spinal cord stimulator injury reports were filed with the FDA over the last decade.

Dr. Christiano wants people to know that while the report showed pitfalls of the device, patients should not be alarmed.

“Look at where we get our devices and how that process occurs to get them from manufacture to patient and on the other hand it is also important to balance that with what is effective for patients and make sure the statistics are not over or under represented,” he said.

He says a lot of strong evidence suggests these devices work for a certain percentage of patients.

“The key there is we have to make sure we are selecting patients for the right reasons or for the right problem,” he said.

Dr. Christiano said that on average about 85 percent of his patients for spinal cord stimulators get the device and do well with it and these are patients that have exhausted all other options to treat pain.

The best advice he says for people experiencing pain is to see multiple doctors to get different opinions and perspectives before becoming a candidate of this device.

Matt Benz

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