View Full Version : My spine stim set off all alarms at SEATAC

loves to skate
07-30-2008, 02:59 PM
Hi everyone,
I wore my spine stim instead of packing it in my suitcase and having it take up too much space. I had no problems going through security in the Providence,RI airport. I simply took the spine stim off and sent it through the xray machine. No questions asked and no alarms. So you can imagine my surprise going through security at Seattle's SEATAC airport when every alarm in the place started to go off and I was maybe 10 - 20 feet away from any metal detectors. There were at least 6 or 7 lines of people and the inspectors were going nuts. Fortunately one of the inspectors was an EMT and he knew what was causing the problem. I realized the problem was me when he walked over to me, so I promply shut the dang thing off. It was kind of funny but I was grateful that someone there knew what a spine stim was. I guess the moral of the story is to shut off the spine stim way before trying to go through security. We had a great trip, hubby's 50 high school class reunion. I wasn't terribly comfortable sitting in the airplane for 5+ hours but made it OK.

Unfortunately, we had a medical emergency (my husband developed a detached retina while in Seattle) and we had to reschedule our flight to come home 4 days early to seek treatment in Boston. To reattach a retina, a nitrous oxide gas bubble is placed in the eyeball and you can't fly for 3 weeks, so to get it fixed in Seattle was out of the question. Fortunately for me, since I had to drive, the 2 trips into Boston were on the weekend. Yesterday, we drove to one of the satallite offices and the Dr. said that the retina was reattached, thank God. Hopefully his vision should improve over the next 2 weeks or so. It was a rather disapointing and stressful time but it's always good to be back home and sleeping in one's own bed.


07-30-2008, 03:13 PM
OH my goodness, you've had quite a bit of excitement, haven't you? Thank goodness your husband got his eye taken care of in time. I've heard the restriction about flying, but I didn't realize that you were allowed to fly before it was fixed.

I'm glad your security adventure turned out ok. I have to ask though--what exactly this spine stim thing? Is it like the 'stim' they offer at physical therapy? Do you use this after your surgery?

Welcome home and take care of yourself and that hubby :)

07-30-2008, 04:10 PM
Sally-- that was quite an adventure! I bet you stayed calm throughout the SEATAC ordeal-- I'd have been in a panic I bet! :eek: Yes, that was good that there was someone who knew what you had... since I didn't have one, I have no idea what they look like (but I guess I could google it and see one...)

I'm glad that your hubby's eye seems to be ok now. I'm sorry that your trip was cut short though. And yes, it's always nice to sleep in your own bed again. :)

loves to skate
07-30-2008, 05:52 PM
Hi Debbei and Susie,

A spinal stimulator is a lovely device that you wear around your middle and it sends an electromagnetic negative charge to your spine. It stimulates bone formation and has been proven to increase the chances of a successful fusion from about 60% to about 92%. Many of us older folks don't fuse as easily as the younger ones do. I have to wear it 4 hours a day for 9 months after the surgery. Only about 5 weeks to go, Yea. I'm kind of surprised everyone over the age of 20 years isn't given one of these things now since there have been many failed fusions over the years. Google orthofix to get more information. Sally

07-30-2008, 09:16 PM
Sally-- thanks for the info. I googled it, and one thing I'm wondering about is if it's not something they can use on long fusions-- I saw cervical and lumbar ones listed, but didn't see (but just glanced) anything for a long fusion...

And yes, I keep reminding myself of the approximately 25% chance for pseudarthrosis in someone my age--plus I'm assuming with more vertebrae fused, the bigger the chance. I'm hoping you've got those odds licked, and time will tell with me.

07-31-2008, 05:19 AM

Thanks for the info. That sounds very interesting. Does it feel uncomfortable? Do you wear it 24 hours a day? I think I will put this on my list to ask the Dr. for my appointment right before surgery. I'd like to do anything that will increase my chance of proper fusion.


One more question--obviously if you can take it off, you have an external stimulator, right? I've been googling to ask at my appointment :)

07-31-2008, 09:02 AM
Sally-- I was just reading some more on their site and ran across this, that was part of the "points" under the heading of Patient Benefits at this link: http://www.orthofix.com/products/spine_spinalstim.asp

* Normally poses no issues when traveling through airport security (user should bring product manual with their PEMF device and turn the device off if it must be put through an airport x-ray scan.)

Also-- the figures I had read about percentage of pseudarthrosis in the over 55 age bracket were 25%, so I was curious about your figure of 60%-- do you know if that is from general fusions or from our type of spinal reconstruction surgery??? Thanks. :)

loves to skate
07-31-2008, 04:30 PM
Hi Susie,

I was relying on my memory, not so great. So, I got out my little booklet! The booklet says, "At one year postop, patients using active devices on a consistent daily regimen (an average of at least 2 hrs per day) developed solid fusion in 92.2% of the cases. Patients consistently using placebo (inative) devices developed solid fusion in 67.9% of the cases. This 35% increase in treatment effect is statistically significant." It goes on to say, "The success rate for patients in the randomized double-masked phase for whom success or failure status is known at 4 years after treatment with the Spinal-Stim for all subjects (consistent & inconsistent users combined) was 63% as compared with 83% in this phase of the clinical trial (i.e., 1 year postop). Consistent users of the device in this phase had an initial success rate of 92.2% with a success rate of 70% after 4 years (a 24% reduction). Inconsistent users and the entire placebo group had an initial success rate of 65% with a success rate of 50% after 4 years(again, a 24% reduction). Long-term follow-up data indicates the success rate differentials between antive and placebo units are maintained over time. Long-term consistent Spinal-Stim users benefit with a 40% increase in fusion success, when compared to inconsistent and placebo device users." The reference for this study is given as :
1. Mooney,V.,"A Randomized Double-Blind Prospective Study of the Efficacy of Pulsed Electromagnetic Field for Interbody Lumbar Fusions", SPINE, Vol. 15,No. 7, P708, 1990.

"Spinal-Stim was also tested for nonoperative salvage in patients presenting with established pseudarthrosis of lumbar fusion in an open trial. Without concomitant regrafting, 67% of these cases reached a successful fusion by consistent use (average of 2 hrs/day). The 4 yr success rates for these patients in the open trial, non-operative salvage phase for all subjects (consistent and inconsistent users combined) was 39% as compared with 57% in this phase of the original clinical trial (i.e., 1 yr postop). Consistent users in this phase had a success rate of 44% after 4 yrs. Inconsistent users in this phase had a success rate of 19% after 4 yrs." Reference for this study:
2. Simmons, JW, Hayes, et al, "The Effect of Postoperative Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields on Lumbar Fusion: Open Trial Study". Presented at the Annual Meeting of the N. American Spine Society, Quebec City, Canada 2 July 1989.

I think this is for all lumbar fusions, not just scoliosis fusions, but it may be limited to interbody Lumbar Fusions. Also these studies were before they started using the artificial bone substitute. I guess it is something you should ask your Dr. about. I know that Linda W was wearing one and hers was a long fusion, but she also had Dr. Rand. Dr. Rand is a consultant for the National Scoliosis Foundation, if that helps with his credentials.

Debbei, It is not uncomfortable, it just gets in the way. I am always bumping into things with it and then it shifts so I have to reposition it. When I get into a car, it really shifts and isn't too comfortable while riding in a car. I wear it 4 hours/day.

Hope this helps and that I covered all my bases so I don't get bagged by copyright laws. Sally

08-01-2008, 12:42 PM
I wear this device also and I have a long fusion. I'm wearing mine at night while sleeping. After four hours it beeps and I take it off. I can wear it over my brace but I don't want to wear it in public because my family told me I look like a suicide bomber.:rolleyes:


loves to skate
08-01-2008, 01:10 PM
I wear mine in public all of the time and no one even looks at me funny. I don't think I would be able to sleep in mine as it seems to shift with my every move and it isn't too comfortable to lie down in it. Sally:)