TYLER, TX (KLTV) - More than 10,000 Americans undergo surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator for chronic pain, each year. Of those, nearly 70 percent will need an MRI at some point, but the old stimulators had to be surgically removed and re-implanted after the MRI. A new device is MRI friendly, meaning less surgery.
A Tyler surgeon performed the second implantation in the country today. The first, was done yesterday in Houston.
Larry Liedke has a lot to keep up with.
"Lot a grand babies," he said, laughing.
Twenty-two, to be exact.
"Can't play with them, can't ride four wheelers like we used to, but get this in and we'll be back to normal," he said.
He began feeling unbearable pain in his right leg after hurting it while climbing a ladder more than a year ago.
"It's very difficult to see your spouse in pain," Linda Liedke, Larry's wife, said.
Linda has been taking care of him ever since, "all night long, tossing and turning in pain."
"They kept giving me pills, you know, medicine, and I don't like taking medicine all the time," Larry said.
So, Dr. Duane Lee Griffith, suggested a spinal cord stimulator, a small pacemaker style device, be inserted in his back.
"For Larry this stimulator will change his life significantly, he'll have better pain control, without having to use medications," Dr. Griffith said.
Spinal cord stimulators have been around for years, but this one is accident friendly and Larry says, "If I get hurt again, like she said, I'm accident prone."
This is the first MRI safe device that doesn't need to be removed before and MRI.
"When you're talking about a leap in technology, which this is, this is a groundbreaking device, and we're very fortunate to have this for our patients here in East Texas," Dr. Griffith said.
As Larry waited for his surgery, his wife remembered something she misses about him from before the pain began.
"The smile on his face," she said.
Dr. Griffith says all three patients who underwent the surgery today are doing well and are recovering. The procedure launches nationally next week.