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J Neurosurg. 1986 Jan;64(1):71-80.

Spinal cord stimulation in peripheral arterial disease. A cooperative study.


Percutaneous epidural stimulation of the low thoracic spinal cord was carried out in 41 patients with pain from peripheral arterial disease of the lower limbs. Results are reported relating to pain, claudication distance, peripheral blood flow, and trophic lesion changes. Following a trial period of stimulation, 37 patients had stimulators permanently implanted. After a mean poststimulation follow-up period of 25 months, substantial pain relief (75% to 100%) was obtained in 29 cases; claudication distance significantly increased in 15 cases; Doppler ultrasound recordings of lower-limb distal arteries showed a tendency toward normalization of pulse-wave morphology, with increase of amplitude in 12 of the 23 patients studied; a rise in skin temperature was also detected by thermography. Distal arterial blood pressure remained unchanged with stimulation. Ischemic cutaneous trophic lesions of less than 3 sq cm healed, but gangrenous conditions were not benefited. A placebo effect or the natural history of the disease can be excluded as the reason for these improvements. It is concluded that spinal cord stimulation is a valid alternative treatment for moderate peripheral arterial disorders when direct arterial surgery is not possible or has been unsuccessful.

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