Bethlehem News

Published on May 21st, 2014


World’s Smallest, Longest-lasting and Upgradable Neurostimulator for Chronic Pain Now Available to Patients at St. Luke’s

Quakertown, PA (Issued 5/6/14) — Dr. Steven Falowski, Functional Neurosurgeon, St. Luke’s University Health Network, became the first physician in the region and just the second in the nation to surgically implant the newly approved Protégé IPG neurostimulator system for a patient suffering from chronic pain. William Roth, age 58 of Barto, Pennsylvania, received the Protégé IPG neurostimulator during an afternoon surgery at St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus. Mr. Roth was discharged home the same day.


Approved just last month by the Food and Drug Administration, the Protégé IPG manufactured by St. Jude Medical is the world’s smallest, longest-lasting rechargeable device to treat chronic pain. The Protégé IPG is the first neurostimulator in the world that allows for future, non-invasive software upgrades to its technology.

Spinal cord stimulation, also called neurostimulation, is an important therapy options for patients who have not been able to alleviate their chronic pain through traditional methods such as medicine or surgery. As many as 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain which accounts for 40 percent of all work-related absences and affects more people than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. Mr. Roth, once an avid athlete and sporting enthusiast, has suffered from chronic pain involving his lower back and legs for more than seven years. He has been unable to partake in sports and other activities due to significant disabling pain.

falowski-surgery-2“Chronic pain can significantly limit patients’ quality of life, said Dr. Falowski. This new technology offers patients in our region a new option for treating chronic pain…one that allows them to receive further therapy improvements and refinements through software program upgrades and without the need to have their device surgically replaced.”

Mr. Roth was recognized as a candidate for the procedure by his pain physician Dr. Scott Loev of St. Luke’s Spine and Pain Associates who performed an initial trial of the stimulator to judge response to the therapy. Dr. Loev and Dr. Falowski have worked together for more than three years in delivering these crucial therapies to their patients.

Similar in function and appearance to a cardiac pacemaker, the Protégé neurostimulator delivers mild electrical pulses to the spinal cord which interrupt or mask the pain signals’ transmissions to the brain. By masking the pain signals, patients who receive neurostimulation may see an overall improved quality of life.

Director of Functional Neurosurgery for St. Luke’s University Health Network, Dr. Steven Falowski is a pioneer in the field of functional neurosurgery.  In December 2011 he was the second surgeon in the country to implant the first-ever automatic position adjustment neurostimulator and works closely with industry to access the latest industry and clinical trials for his patients. Dr. Falowski is Scientific Program Chair for the North American Neuromodulation Society and serves as a member of the Board for the AANS/CNS Executive Pain Committee. He practices with St. Luke’s Neurosurgical Associates in Quakertown and Bethlehem.

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