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Neuromodulation. 2015 Jan;18(1):1-8; discussion 8. doi: 10.1111/ner.12221. Epub 2014 Aug 21.

Stimulation parameters define the effectiveness of burst spinal cord stimulation in a rat model of neuropathic pain.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



Although burst spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been reported to reduce neuropathic pain, no study has explicitly investigated how the different parameters that define burst SCS may modulate its efficacy. The effectiveness of burst SCS to reduce neuronal responses to noxious stimuli by altering stimulation parameters was evaluated in a rat model of cervical radiculopathy.


Neuronal firing was recorded in the spinal dorsal horn before and after burst SCS on day 7 following painful cervical nerve root compression (N = 8 rats). The parameters defining the stimulation (number of pulses per burst, pulse frequency, pulse width, burst frequency, amplitude) were individually varied in separate stimulation trials while holding the remaining parameters constant. The percent reduction of firing of wide-dynamic-range (WDR) and high-threshold neurons after SCS and the percentage of neurons responding to SCS were quantified for each parameter and correlated to the charge per burst delivered during stimulation.


Pulse number, pulse width, and amplitude each were significantly correlated (p <0.009) to suppression of neuronal firing after SCS. Pulse frequency and amplitude significantly affected (p <0.05) the percentage of responsive neurons. Charge per burst was correlated to a reduction of WDR neuronal firing (p <0.03) and had a nonlinear effect on the percentage of neurons responding to burst SCS.


Burst SCS can be optimized by adjusting relevant stimulation parameters to modulate the charge delivered to the spinal cord during stimulation. The efficacy of burst SCS is dependent on the charge per burst.


burst stimulation; neuropathic pain; optimization; radiculopathy; spinal cord stimulation

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