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Med Biol Eng Comput. 2011 Jul;49(7):765-74. doi: 10.1007/s11517-011-0780-9. Epub 2011 Apr 29.

Predicted effects of pulse width programming in spinal cord stimulation: a mathematical modeling study.

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  • 1Boston Scientific Neuromodulation, 25155 Rye Canyon Blvd, Valencia, CA 91355, USA.


To understand the theoretical effects of pulse width (PW) programming in spinal cord stimulation (SCS), we implemented a mathematical model of electrical fields and neural activation in SCS to gain insight into the effects of PW programming. The computational model was composed of a finite element model for structure and electrical properties, coupled with a nonlinear double-cable axon model to predict nerve excitation for different myelinated fiber sizes. Mathematical modeling suggested that mediolateral lead position may affect chronaxie and rheobase values, as well as predict greater activation of medial dorsal column fibers with increased PW. These modeling results were validated by a companion clinical study. Thus, variable PW programming in SCS appears to have theoretical value, demonstrated by the ability to increase and even 'steer' spatial selectivity of dorsal column fiber recruitment. It is concluded that the computational SCS model is a valuable tool to understand basic mechanisms of nerve fiber excitation modulated by stimulation parameters such as PW and electric fields.

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