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Angiology. 1993 Jan;44(1):21-5.

Clinical results of epidural spinal cord electrical stimulation in patients affected with limb-threatening chronic arterial obstructive disease.

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  • 11st Department of Surgery, La Sapienza University, Rome.


Between 1982 and 1990, 76 patients (33 women, 43 men, mean age 71.4 +/- 10 years) affected with limb-threatening peripheral vascular disease (claudication < 20 m: 3 patients; rest pain: 10 patients; necrosis1 smaller than 3 cm2: 28 patients; necrosis2 larger than 3 cm2: 35 patients) not amenable to medical and/or surgical therapy, were treated by epidural spinal cord electrical stimulation (ESES). Effectiveness of ESES was evaluated by consideration of pain control, walking distance, and healing of ischemic lesions. At a mean follow-up of twenty-six months (range: one to seventy-six) 44 limbs (58%) were amputated (rest pain 2; necrosis1 13; necrosis2 29) and 39% of necrotic lesions smaller than 3 cm2 healed. The overall limb salvage rate was 42%. Pain control was obtained in 80% of patients at the one-year and 75% at the two-year follow-up, with infrequent use of pain relievers. Despite the poor clinical results observed, the limb salvage rate testifies to the effectiveness of ESES in limb-threatening ischemia. Moreover, the authors noticed a good ESES effect on pain relief, maximal in the early and intermediate postimplant periods. In conclusion ESES must be considered the last resort in peripheral vascular disease in patients in whom medical and/or surgical therapies are ineffective or impossible. Necrotic lesions larger than 3 cm2 contraindicate, in their opinion, ESES implant.

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