Medtronic Launches Platform with Unique Approach to Treating Chronic Pain
The Intellis platform ( Photo by Medtronic)

Medtronic Launches Platform with Unique Approach to Treating Chronic Pain

Instead of prescribing an opioid-based treatment plan, the Intellis system offers doctors a non-opioid approach to treating chronic back pain.

After its recent FDA approval, Medtronic on Monday announced the U.S. launch of its Intellis platform, a spinal-cord stimulation system that uses electrical pulses to block pain signals from reaching the brain.
As a non-opioid therapy, Duke University pain medicine specialist Dr. Lance Roy said Intellis offered up significant potential for chronic pain management, particularly as an alternative to addictive medications.
“Chronic pain is challenging to manage,” he said in a statement. “New non-opioid treatment options are important given the national crisis related to opioid abuse. This platform represents a welcome new option for managing some kinds of chronic pain.”
Doctors overseeing patients implanted with the Intellis device—said to be the smallest device of its kind in the world—can track patient activity and make modifications on the fly to individual therapy plans with the Intellus platform. The neurostimulation system is operated securely from a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet, which according to Medtronic allows doctors to “optimize treatment and improve patient-physician communication by tracking and sharing daily activities, body positions and therapy usage.”
Patients will find additional benefit from Intellis’s short battery recharge time. Compared to other spinal cord stimulation systems that can take hours to charge, Medtronic’s system boasts an empty to full charge time of just one hour.
“We considered the entire patient journey—starting with the primary goal of optimal pain relief and access to important diagnostic tools, like MRI, to ease of use with simplified programming, faster recharge and a smaller implant,” said Marshall Stanton, senior vice president of Medtronic’s pain therapies division, in a statement. “Medtronic is committed to addressing patient needs, so the Intellis platform was designed based on what is most important to patients and physicians.”
Medical device makers outside of Medtronic have also answered the industry call to action regarding developing non-opioid treatment options. Competitors Boston Scientific and Abbott (which this year acquired Little Canada-based St. Jude Medical) both offer their own line of devices, the Star Tribune noted.
Local trade publication Medical Alley Association applauded the launch of the new device. “This is an exciting development for Medtronic and presents a huge step toward solving the opioid crisis,” it said on Twitter.