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Pain Physician. 2008 May-Jun;11(3):333-8.

Efficacy of transverse tripolar spinal cord stimulator for the relief of chronic low back pain from failed back surgery.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.



Failed back surgery syndrome is a common clinical entity for which spinal cord stimulation has been found to be an effective mode of analgesia, but with variable success rates.


To determine if focal stimulation of the dorsal columns with a transverse tripolar lead might achieve deeper penetration of the electrical stimulus into the spinal cord and therefore provide greater analgesia to the back.


Case report.


We describe a 42-year-old female with failed back surgery syndrome that had greater back pain than leg pain. The tripolar lead configuration was achieved by placing percutaneously an octapolar lead in the spinal midline followed by 2 adjacent quadripolar leads, advanced to the T7-T10 vertebral bodies.


Tripolar stimulation pattern resulted in more than 70% pain relief in this patient during the screening trial, while stimulation of one or 2 electrodes only provided 20% pain relief. After implantation of a permanent tripolar electrode system with a single rechargeable battery, the pain relief was maintained for one year.


This is case report describing a case of a patient with chronic low back pain with a diagnosis of failed back surgery syndrome in which transverse tripolar stimulation using an octapolar and 2 quadripolar leads appeared to be beneficial. The transverse tripolar system consists of a central cathode surrounded by anodes, using 3 leads. This arrangement may contribute to maximum dorsal column stimulation with minimal dorsal root stimulation and provide analgesia to the lower back.

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