A newly-launched system for chronic pain patients is the first to use tablet devices and wireless technology to trial spinal cord stimulation therapy.

SCS therapy delivers low levels of electrical energy to nerve fibres, which mask or interrupt pain signals as they travel to the brain. Minimally invasive trial implants are often used to evaluate the effectiveness of the therapy before receiving the full implant.

In the ‘Invisible Trial System’, created by St Jude Medical, an iPod Touch is used to adjust the therapy, with the aim being to provide simple controls for the patient. An iPad Mini is used by the patient’s physician to set the programming parameters.

The system also uses an external pulse generator as a power source, which uses Bluetooth to communicate between the iPod controller and the stimulation device. The company claims this often makes the system “invisible” by allowing it to be worn under clothing.

“The Invisible Trial System was designed to improve the comfort and usability for patients evaluating spinal cord stimulation therapy to alleviate their chronic pain, without focusing on potential barriers such as programming trial cables and systems with complex trial controls,” says Eric Fain, group president of St Jude Medical.

It will also include the option for ‘burst’ stimulation, an alternative to the standard SCS therapy that can alleviate paresthesia and is often not available in the trial stage. Paresthesia is a sensation that can fluctuate with posture and body position changes and negatively impact the trial.