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Neuromodulation. 2001 Apr;4(2):59-66. doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1403.2001.00059.x.

Epidural spinal cord stimulation with a multiple electrode paddle lead is effective in treating intractable low back pain.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Yellowstone Neurosurgical Associates, Yellowstone Medical Center East, Billings, Montana; Rocky Mountain Neurosurgical Alliance, Aurora, Colorado; and Department of Neurosurgery, Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.


The objective of this paper is to examine the outcomes of patients with intractable low-back pain treated with epidural spinal cord stimulation (SCS) utilizing paddle electrodes and a radio frequency (RF) stimulator. A multicenter prospective study was performed to collect data from patients suffering from chronic low-back pain. The study was designed to collect data from 60 patients at four centers and examine their outcomes at, or up to two years post implantation. Patients' participation included written responses to a series of preoperative questionnaires that were designed to collect previous surgical history information, leg and low back pain characteristics, and routine demographic information. Outcome measurements included the visual analog scale (VAS), the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire, the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP), and a patient satisfaction rating scale. Data were collected at each site during patient visits or by mail, at approximately six months, 12 months, and 24 months. A total of 44 patients have been implanted with a SCS system at the time of this writing. Follow-up data were available for 41 patients. Preoperatively, all patients reported more than 50% of their pain in the low back. All patients had pain in both their backs and legs. All patients showed a reported mean decrease in their 10-point VAS scores compared to baseline. The majority of patients reported fair to excellent pain relief in both the low back and legs. At six months 91.6% of the patients reported fair to excellent relief in the legs and 82.7% of the patients reported fair to excellent relief in the low back. At one year 88.2% of the patients reported fair to excellent relief in the legs and 68.8% of the patients reported fair to excellent relief in the low back. Significant improvement in function and quality of life was found at both the six-month and one-year follow-ups using the Oswestry and SIP, respectively. The majority of patients reported that the procedure was worthwhile (92% at six months, 88% at one year). No patient indicated that the procedure was not worthwhile. We conclude that SCS proved beneficial at one year for the treatment of patients with chronic low back and leg pain.

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