St. Jude Medical Inc. said Tuesday that U.S. regulators have cleared a key component in a device-based therapy that treats chronic pain.

The Epiducer lead delivery system works with the Little Canada-based company's Eon neurostimulator device to treat chronic pain in the trunk and limbs of the body stemming from failed back surgery. A pacemaker-like device sends mild electrical pulses through an implanted lead, or wire, to the spine.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared St. Jude's new Epiducer leads, which reduce the need for multiple incisions when implanted in the body. The agency's action means the company's leads can be marketed in the United States.

According to the Institute of Medicine, chronic pain affects an estimated 116 million American adults -- more than the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752