Cool surgical x-rays of spinal cord surgery last night on the 10 o’clock news showed the insertion of wire (not in this pic!) into the epidural space that’s wirelessly linked to an external neurostimulator. By activating an electrical current in the wire it can counteract chronic back pain. Medtronic, the manufacturers couldn’t have hoped for better publicity for their device which quite rightly has been credited with transforming the lives of those whose lives are crippled by persistent back pain. Implants to control tremors in those with Parkinsons, treat symptoms in the acutely depressed, rejuvenate hearing in the deaf and regulate the heart in those with arrhythmia are becoming more sophisticated and effective. The challenge is affording them when we are still allowing so many people to drain the NHS budget through irresponsible living.