What is the Vega Procedure?
The Vega Procedure is the St. Jude Pain Centers’ denomination for combined Spinal Cord Stimulation and Subcutaneous Peripheral Stimulation. It involves the implantation of two standard devices, both FDA-approved for the treatment of back pain. One device is a standard Spinal Cord Stimulator utilized commonly for refractory, chronic back and extremity pain. The other is a similar device but is distinguished by having the two small leads placed in the subcutaneous regions of the back. While standard Spinal Cord Stimulation alone commonly helps both back and extremity pain, experience indicates that the results are improved by adding the second set of subcutaneous leads.
Fully FDA Approved
The implantable stimulators are manufactured by several well-established companies, including Abbott Labs (St. Jude Medical), Boston Scientific, and Medtronic, amongst others. They are fully FDA-approved devices that have been used for over 50 years now, and their effectiveness is confirmed by hundreds of peer-reviewed medical research publications.
Who is a good candidate for the Vega Procedure?
Generally, to be considered for “candidacy” for the procedure, your pain problem should be:
- Chronic — meaning daily for over 6 months duration
- Moderately Severe to Severe
- Refractory. Your pain does not respond adequately to other means of treatment. Generally, to be considered for a SCS patients will have been through a lengthy course of treatment that may include medications, physical therapy, and possibly interventional procedures such as epidural injections or other nerve blocks.
The stimulating unit consists of a small (about the size of a pacemaker) battery unit that is commonly placed just under the skin over the lower back/gluteal region. From this unit, two (commonly) very thin wires are passed to areas in the low back that are involved with the chronic pain.
Where is the unit placed?
The unit is placed is completely under the skin, and once it heals up the patient is generally not even aware that it is there (other than the fact that the pain is now under good control). When the unit is on, the patient experiences a mild, comfortable tingling sensation over the areas that were painful, and by several mechanisms, this may ease the pain greatly (50 to >90%). In addition to seeing great relief in the pain, our patients generally report either requiring no other pain medicines or a greatly reduced amount of other meds. Further, they are enjoying getting back to normal lifestyles with their friends, family, and work.
The battery of each stimulator lasts at least 5 years, and if needed beyond that it is a simple 15 minute outpatient procedure to replace the battery.
One of the many great things about the Vega Procedure is the ability to actually test the stimulator before you have the actual implant. Yes, this is one of the few times in medicine, where you can actually test a therapeutic surgical procedure to make sure that it works before you actually have the procedure.
All in all, the Vega Procedure and other forms of implantable neurostimulation have already controlled the pain and restored the lives of thousands of patients. To learn more about the procedure we invite you to view our On-Demand Webinar, and then to schedule a complimentary (FREE) appointment with one of our St. Jude Pain Centers’ Specialists.
Learn more about our permanent pain relief treatment options, and find out if St. Jude Pain Centers is right for you.