Spinal cord stimulation: A valuable treatment for chronic failed back surgery patients

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Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been used in the treatment of 'chronic failed back surgery syndrome' for many years. To evaluate long-term results and cost effectiveness of SCS, we interviewed 69 patients treated during a period of 13 years. Twenty-six patients stopped using SCS; there was no clear explanation for this unsatisfactory result in 10. Forty-three patients continued with the therapy and obtained good pain relief. Electrode breakage either spontaneous or due to a procedure to obtain better stimulation paresthesias was more frequent in the radiofrequency-coupled system group than in the battery group (mean ± SEM 2.81 ± 2.0 versus 1.42 ± 1.51, respectively; P = 0.0018). Ten patients obtained better pain relief than during the trial procedure. Some still need opioid analgesics, but 11 of the 16 who require these drugs obtained a synergistic effect when concomitantly using the stimulator. Eleven patients have returned to work. In our center the application of SCS costs on average $3660 per patient per year. Although this seems expensive, it may be a cost-effective treatment if other therapies fail.




Devulder, J., De Laat, M., Van Bastelaere, M., & Rolly, G. (1997). Spinal cord stimulation: A valuable treatment for chronic failed back surgery patients. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 13(5), 296–301. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0885-3924(96)00322-3

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