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stimulator help!

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I am in the market for one of these...my doc is not being very helpful. From what I can tell, these are covered by Medicare with a 20% co-pay...so it will cost me $800 (20% of $4000). My dad got one last year, and he got it through his private insurance.

I read that these companies were being sued by insurance companies, because insurers feel these units should be rented at lower prices, since patients dont use these for life. Can I actually rent one? My doc said these are single use only, so how can anyone rent it, and how can the insurance company sue manufacturers?

Also, which one to get????

I thought these were all outside the body, but when I did my research, Biomet (EBI) makes one called SpF that is implanted...why would anyone want to get another surgery for one of these, when there are plenty that are outside the body?

Please help me understand.


  • Take a look at the Spinal Cord Stimulation forum here at Spine Health. You should be able to find some good information here.

    Welcome to Spine Health,

  • Hi,

    I did not post in thos forum, because I thought SCS was for pain..Im interested in bone/spine growth stimulators after fractures or fusion surgeries, not pain stimulators..
  • Ah, your post wasn't clear to my early morning brain cells on that. No worries it's an easy fix.

  • Sorry, where is it posted now, cant find it..
  • Biotechie,

    Welcome to Spine Health! I was prescribed a bone growth stimulator manufactured by Orthofix. My co-pay was a little over $100 - it was near the end of the year, so many of my deductibles were met. Mine was for cervical, and the 'retail' cost was in the neighborhood of $5,000.00 too I believe.

    I've not heard if they rent them. At least to me, a used one would feel like I am sharing a hat with someone. Not my thing. I hope you can find one. Take care.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Look at orthofix.com.
    That is their website and would probably answer most of your questions.
    If you do go forward on getting one just make sure your ins. co. is gonna cover their share first.
    I used one for my spine and i am fusing.
    There are several other people here that use one also. They say they do have a success rate.
    And they are set up for single person use only. They are suppose to have something like a 9 month lifespan, and then quit working.
    Good luck and do your homework before agreeing to get one.
  • This is to reply for Biotechie_4_life question, why would anybody want these implanted? When I had my three level lumbar fusion over two years ago, I had an EBI unit implanted just under the skin, the electrodes were connected to the fusion site. My OS said that the lithium batteries will go dead in six month, at that time if I want it, he can remove the battery unit from under the skin in a simple outpatient procedure. Since it does not bother me, and barely can detect it under my skin, I never bothered with removing it. It definitely done its job, as by six month I more or less fused. Its purpose was to aid in the fusion and not pain control. I am glad I had it, as who knows, maybe that is why I had such an easy and painless time with my recovery. It did not cost me a penny, MEDICARE and Blue Cross Blue Shield paid for it together with the surgery, hospital and the stay at the Hyatt's rehabilitation ward.

  • Hey,

    so my OS gave me the option of getting the implantable one from Biomet...think its called SpF..or the external one from orthofix, spinal-stim...

    From the research I have done, if I would get annoyed wearing this thing, probably better to get it implanted, as it wont bug me as much. But in terms of efficacy, does the implantable version work the same as the external..will I see good results in both?

    Lastly...whats the process for getting these..I know I can ask my OS these questions, but no appt for 2 weeks, so wanted to find out as much as I can now - so, if I decide to get it, does the OS just call Biomet, and they visit me at my house, and set it up and fit me with it according to the OS's prescription, or do I go to the OS, and the Biomet met meets me there?

  • I have no knowledge at all concerning the inplanted one.
    But with the orthofix if you go that route, 1st make sure your insurance approves it before you get it.
    As some here have had that problem.
    Then it is kinda bulky, and you wear it for 4 hours a day, for probably 6 months. On orthofix's website it states that it is proven to help the fusion process.
    Talk to your doctor about your option's as you have to live with your choice, but me personnally i would not go with the inplanted one.
    The cost will be higher, and i dont see the need of having something put inside me that will only work for 6 months, but everyone is different, so only you can decide,
    Get your doctor's recommendation, and then go from there and good luck.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    For post op bone growth simulators most units are made to last only a short period. Some have built in batteries that can only be recharged a limited number of times before they start to not hold the charge. Thus they are purchased.

    My cervical one held a charge for the full 4 hr/day I used it up until about month 5 when it would only last 3 hr per charge. My lumbar unit battery died at 3 mo so they sent me a new one which lasted 3 mo and that died as well.

    So many are "disposable".

    I didn't pay much for mine as I had already met my annual out of pocket maximum. If medicare works in a similar way once your reach this max you no longer incur any further % costs. I no longer owed my 20% after I met my $300 deductible and $1500 out of pocket maximum. My surgery was 2/3/10 so by the time I was discharged I was already at my max.

    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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