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Neurosurg Focus. 2016 May;40(5):E4. doi: 10.3171/2016.3.FOCUS15634.

Neuromodulation in intractable pain management: outcomes and predictors of revisions of spinal cord stimulators.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Louisiana State University Health-Shreveport, Louisiana.


OBJECTIVE Spinal cord stimulators (SCSs) appear to be safe and efficacious for chronic intractable back pain. Although there are many reports on percutaneous SCSs, there are very few studies on outcomes of paddle lead SCSs. In addition, the predictors of requirement for SCS revision have not been well established. Here, the authors review the outcome of a case series and attempt to identify the predictors of SCS revisions. METHODS The clinical and radiological information of 141 patients with intractable chronic pain who underwent SCS implantation within the past 20 years was retrospectively reviewed. Paddle lead SCSs were used in this series. Statistical analysis was conducted using Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox proportional-hazards regression. RESULTS Among 141 cases, 90 (64%) did not require any revision after SCS implantations. Removal of the SCS was required in 14 patients. The average pain score was significantly reduced (preimplantation score of 8 vs postimplantation score of 1.38; p < 0.0001). Younger age, male sex, obesity, a preimplantation pain score ≥ 8, and the presence of neuromuscular pain were identified as predictors of the overall requirement for SCS revision. However, only a preimplantation pain score ≥ 8 was identified as a predictor of early failure of the SCS. CONCLUSIONS Implantation of a paddle lead SCS is a relatively less invasive, safe, and effective procedure for patients with intractable back pain. Revision of the procedure depends on many factors, including younger age, male sex, associated neuromuscular pain, and severity of the pain. Therefore, patients with these factors, for whom implantation of an SCS is planned, should be closely followed for the possible requirement for revision.


BMI = body mass index; DM = diabetes mellitus; FBSS = failed–back surgery syndrome; RFS = revision-free survival; SCS = spinal cord stimulator; complications; outcomes; predictors; revision; spinal cord stimulator

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