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Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) is a technique for treating chronic pain, particularly in areas that are hard to treat with traditional spinal cord stimulation, such as the hand, chest, abdomen, foot, knee or groin.

The DRG is a bundle of sensory nerve cell bodies within the epidural space. Each nerve root communicates to the dorsal root ganglion in a way that allows sensory messages from a defined area of the body. Therefore, applying stimulation to the DRG can permit focused therapy to a specific focal area.

DRG stimulation is an outpatient therapy, similar to traditional spinal cord stimulation (SCS). Rather than placing the electrodes over the posterior aspect of the spinal cord, as in SCS, leads are implanted on the dorsal root ganglion, a cluster of neurons in the posterior root of spinal nerves.

What is a DRG stimulator?

DRG stimulation features two components that are surgically implanted—a pulse generator, which is placed beneath the skin in the buttocks or abdomen, and up to four leads. The leads are attached to the pulse genera-tor and the tissue near the target treatment area. When activated, the leads send very small electrical impulses to the dorsal root ganglion, thereby blocking the pain stimulant.

A DRG device stimulates the abnormal pain fibers more selectively—and at a lower level—than conventional spinal cord stimulation. This results in pain relief that is free of tingling, prickly sensation in the hand and feet (parenthesis).

Patients first undergo a trial for one week to ensure the therapy is effective. Then, if it is, one week to 10 days later, surgeons implant the system under the skin, much like a pacemaker. The implant procedure takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes.