Spinal cord stimulation: indications and outcomes

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✓Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is the most commonly used implantable neurostimulation modality for management of pain syndromes. In this paper the authors describe the current indications for SCS and its efficacy in the treatment of those diseases. Specifically, the literature on patient selection and outcomes after SCS for failed–back surgery syndrome (FBSS), refractory angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disease, and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) Type I was reviewed. Effective pain relief was obtained in 60 to 80% of patients with FBSS and CRPS Type I. Furthermore, these patients had significant improvements in quality of life (QOL) and a significantly greater chance of returning to work than patients who did not undergo SCS. The use of SCS in patients with inoperable angina (that is, refractory angina pectoris) resulted in significant decreases in chest pain and hospital admissions as well as increased exercise duration, with less morbidity than with open procedures that were performed for pain control only. Patients with inoperable PVD also demonstrated significant improvements in pain relief, QOL, and limb mobility. Reported complications were mostly related to hardware and were relatively minor. Review of randomized controlled studies supports the use of SCS as an effective treatment modality for pain associated with FBSS, refractory angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disease, and CRPS Type I.

Abbreviations used in this paper:CRPS = complex regional pain syndrome; FBSS = failed–back surgery syndrome; QOL = quality of life; SCS = spinal cord stimulation; VAS = Visual Analog Scale.

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Address reprint requests to: Julie G. Pilitsis, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Rush University Medical Center, 1725 West Harrison Street, Suite 1115, Chicago, Illinois 60612. email: Julie_Pilitsis@rush.edu.

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