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Spinal Cord Stimulation and Your Imaging Options

When it comes to your healthcare, knowing your options is important. That's why we've put together some information we think you'll find useful, all with the goal of helping you make the right decisions.

The Role of Imaging in SCS

With SCS, there are numerous imaging options available to meet your needs. While you may need a medical image in your future, it will not treat your pain. Remember, the number-one goal of SCS is to provide effective pain relief.

What the Experts Have to Say

Boston Scientific reached out to experts to help give you more perspective when it comes to SCS and imaging.

Dr. Gary Gold

"For virtually any indication and any part of the body, there are multiple imaging options available."

Dr. Garry Gold

Professor of Radiology at Stanford, Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine

Dr. Thomas Simopoulos

"When it comes to SCS, needing an image or MRI is only part of your healthcare management. After all, imaging does not treat your chronic pain."

Dr. Thomas Simopoulos

Director of Interventional Pain Service, Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School


What Are Your Imaging Options?

Dr. Gold has provided an overview of some of the more commonly used medical imaging technologies.


Also called an X-ray, this type of scan involves exposing a part of the body to a small amount of radiation. The resulting images show the density and composition of internal structures.

  • Best used for bone, chest, lower GI, upper GI, urinary tract
  • Most frequently used form of medical imaging and is available in medical centers, imaging centers, emergency rooms and many physician offices
  • No radiation remains in a patient's body after an X-ray examination
  • Usually has no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for this exam
  • Better detail of bony structures
  • Quick exam time


Uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of an organ or area inside the body.

  • Best used for abdomen, breast, cranium, heart, hip musculoskeletal, obstetrics, pelvis, prostate, scrotum, thyroid, uterus, vasculature, venous extremities
  • Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections)
  • Widely available, easy to use and less expensive than other methods
  • Gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on X-ray images
  • Extremely safe and does not use any ionizing radiation
  • Superficial structures can be seen in as much resolution as with MRI
  • Diagnosis can be in real time
  • Patients can be scanned while performing motion that causes them pain

CT Scan & CT Scan With Contrast

Combines special X-ray equipment with computers to produce cross-sectional images of a body area or a 3-dimensional reconstruction.

  • Best used for abdomen, blood vessels, extremities, full body, chest, colon, head, pelvis, sinuses, spine
  • Painless, noninvasive and accurate
  • Ability to image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels all at the same time
  • Very detailed images
  • Usually completed within 5 minutes, with an actual scan time of less than 30 seconds
  • Can be performed if you have an implanted medical device of any kind

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medical scans utilize small amounts of radioactive isotopes to produce an image that can help detect areas of disease.

  • Best used for bone, brain, breast, heart, hepatobiliary, lung, renal, thyroid, full body
  • Offer unique information – including details on both function and structure – that’s usually unattainable using other imaging procedures
  • For many diseases, nuclear med scans yield the most useful information needed to make a diagnosis or to determine appropriate treatment
  • PET imaging may detect the early onset of disease before it is evident on other imaging tests


Uses low-energy X-rays to produce an image of the human breast to help detect masses and/or micro-calcifications.

  • Mammography is performed on an outpatient basis
  • This quick medical exam uses a noninvasive X-ray targeted to each breast, producing black-and-white images that are read by a radiologist
  • No radiation remains in a patient's body after
  • Best used to check for breast cancer in women
  • Screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms, as well as those who have symptoms
  • Can detect tumors that cannot be felt


Uses a powerful magnetic field, along with radio-frequency pulses and a computer, to produce images of organs, soft tissue, bones and other internal body structures.

  • Best used for abdomen, brain, breast, blood vessels, chest, heart, hepatobiliary system, joints, lungs, musculoskeletal, neck, pancreatic system, pelvis, prostate, renal system, spine
  • Noninvasive: no exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Enables the discovery of abnormalities that might be obscured by bone
  • Contrast material is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based contrast materials
  • Noninvasive alternative to X-ray, angiography and CT for diagnosing problems of the heart and blood vessels

Understanding MR Conditional

All SCS systems have varying limitations and conditions related to MRI scans.


MR Conditional is an item with demonstrated safety in the MR environment within defined conditions.1


Talk to your Doctor to find out which system is right for you.


Precision Montage™ MRI 2

Allows for MRI scans of the full body for patients who meet the eligibility requirements.


Precision Spectra™ 2

Allows for MRI scans of the head for patients who meet the eligibility requirements.

1) ASTM F2503-13 Standard Practice for Marking Medical Devices and Other Items for Safety in the Magnetic Resonance Environment, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2013,

2) Patients implanted with the Precision Montage™ MRI or Precision Spectra™ Spinal Cord Stimulator System with ImageReady™ MRI Technology are "MR Conditional" only when exposed to the MRI environment under the specific conditions defined in the ImageReady MRI Full Body Guidelines for Precision Montage™ MRI Spinal Cord Stimulator System and ImageReady MRI Guidelines for Precision Spectra Spinal Cord Stimulator System Manual (Head Only MRI scans).  The Precision Montage MRI SCS System provides safe access to Full-Body MRI Scans only when used with the Avista MRI Leads and exposed to the MRI environment under the specific conditions defined in the ImageReady MRI Full Body Guidelines for Precision Montage™ MRI Spinal Cord Stimulator System. 


Q&A With Dr. Gold and Dr. Simopoulos

Drs. Gold and Simopoulos provide easy answers to some complicated concerns.


Dr. Gold

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Dr. Simopoulos Questions

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Questions to Discuss With Your Doctor

We've created a list of questions that will make it easy for you to discuss SCS and imaging with your doctor.

It’s Important to Know Your Imaging Options

When deciding which SCS system is right for you, it’s beneficial to understand all the imaging options that are available. Here are a few questions to ask your doctor to help make your decision:

  • Q: What is your number-one priority when choosing an SCS system?
  • Q: What imaging options do I have available for my condition with SCS?
  • Q: What are the long-term considerations when living with an SCS system?

Click here to get the printable version »

Get Info or Talk to Someone

Use these resources to find a Pain Management Specialist, get information materials sent to you, talk to us, or chat with someone who is managing their pain with SCS and has been in your shoes.

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The Patient Ambassador Program lets you connect with people who have chronic pain and use a Boston Scientific SCS System to treat it.

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