Intellis is now licensed in Canada

Intellis platform

Medtronic has announced in a press release that it has received a licence from Health Canada for its Intellis platform, which includes the world’s smallest implantable spinal cord stimulator (SCS) for the management of certain types of chronic intractable pain. Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that can negatively impact all aspects of a person’s life — relationships, work productivity and activities of daily living — yet it remains under-recognised and undertreated.Given the national crisis involving opioid abuse, it is more important than ever for Canadians suffering from chronic pain to have access to new non-opioid treatment options.

“Persistent neuropathic pain is challenging to treat, and our goal should be to restore our patient’s mobility and improve their quality of life with effective long-term pain relief,” said Sean Christie, associate professor and director of research at Dalhousie University. “Considering the recommendations of Choosing Wisely Canada*, it’s more important than ever to find effective, long-term, non-opioid solutions. The availability of the Intellis spinal cord stimulator offers new possibilities for some patients struggling with debilitating pain.”

Six million people in Canada report that they have a form of chronic pain.2 Back problems are among the most common chronic conditions, with an estimated 30 percent of the patients that undergo lumbosacral spine procedures developing chronic intractable pain.1 Medtronic neurostimulation therapy for chronic pain uses an SCS system, which is a medical device placed under a patient’s skin to deliver mild electrical impulses through a lead implanted in the epidural space to block pain signals from going to the brain. Neurostimulation has been proven to provide effective long-term pain relief and improve quality of life, in addition to being a treatment option for patients interested in trying a non-drug alternative.3-7

“Chronic pain affects up to 19% of Canadians,” said Peter Tomashewski, senior director for Restorative Therapies at Medtronic Canada. “Intellis is an important innovation in the field of SCS for both physicians and patients alike. Transformative features and standardised guidance create a balanced approach enabling us to meet our goal of helping people with chronic pain have more freedom to do the things they love.”


  1. Mekhail N, Wentzel DL, Freeman R, Quadri H. Counting the costs: case management implications of spinal cord stimulation treatment for failed back surgery syndrome. Prof Case Manag. 2011;16(1):27-36 Schopflocher D, Taenzer P, Jovey R. The prevalence of chronic pain in Canada. Pain Research and Management 2011; 16(6): 445–50
  2. North RB., Kidd DH., Farrokhi F, et al. Spinal cord stimulation versus repeated lumbosacral spine surgery for chronic pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Neurosurg; 56: 98–106 (2005).
  3. Kumar K., Taylor RS., Jacques L, et al., Spinal cord stimulation versus conventional medical management for neuropathic pain: a multicenter randomised controlled trial in patients with failed back surgery syndrome. Pain; 132: 179–188. (2007).
  4. Kemler MA., De Vet HCW., Barendse GAM et al., The effect of spinal cord stimulation in patients with chronic reflex sympathetic dystrophy: two years’ follow-up of the randomized controlled trial. Ann Neurol; 55: 13–18 (2004).
  5. Taylor RS, Spinal cord stimulation in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Refractory Neuropathic Back and Leg Pain/Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: results of a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Pain Symptom Manage; 31: S13–S19 (2006).
  6. Cameron T, Safety and efficacy of spinal cord stimulation for the treatment of chronic pain – a 20 year literature review. J Neurosurg Spine; 100: 254–267 (2004).
  7. Desai MJ, Hargens LM, Breitenfeldt MD, Doth AH, Ryan MP, Gunnarsson C, Safriel Y. The rate of magnetic resonance imaging in patients with spinal cord stimulation. Spine. 2015 May 1;40(9):E531




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