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Neurosurgery. 1997 Apr;40(4):736-46; discussion 746-7.

Deep brain stimulation for intractable pain: a 15-year experience.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Saskatchewan, Regina, Canada.



During the past 15 years, we prospectively followed 68 patients with chronic pain syndromes who underwent deep brain stimulation (DBS). The objective of our study was to analyze the long-term outcomes to clarify patient selection criteria for DBS.


Patients were referred from a multidisciplinary pain clinic after conservative treatment failed. Electrodes for DBS were implanted within the periventricular gray matter, specific sensory thalamic nuclei, or the internal capsule. Each patient was followed on a 6-monthly follow-up basis and evaluated with a modified visual analog scale.


Follow-up periods ranged from 6 months to 15 years, with an average follow-up period of 78 months. The mean age of the 54 men and 14 women in the study was 51.3 years. Indications for DBS included 43 patients with failed back syndrome, 6 with peripheral neuropathy or radiculopathy, 5 with thalamic pain, 4 with trigeminal neuropathy, 3 with traumatic spinal cord lesions, 2 with causalgic pain, 1 with phantom limb pain, and 1 with carcinoma pain. After initial screening, 53 of 68 patients (77%) elected internalization of their devices; 42 of the 53 (79%) continue to receive adequate relief of pain. Therefore, effective pain control was achieved in 42 of 68 of our initially referred patients (62%). Patients with failed back syndrome, trigeminal neuropathy, and peripheral neuropathy fared well with DBS, whereas those with thalamic pain, spinal cord injury, and postherpetic neuralgia did poorly.


DBS in selected patients provides long-term effective pain control with few side effects or complications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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