Quantitative sensory testing for spinal cord stimulation in patients with chronic neuropathic pain

Pain Pract. 2006 Sep;6(3):161-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2006.00080.x.


Objective: A prospective pilot study was conducted, attempting to identify objective tests that would help clinicians to assess the efficacy of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) trial preceding permanent device implantation.

Setting: Four university hospitals in the United States and Israel.

Participants: Thirteen patients with radicular leg pain due to failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) or leg pain due to complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) who were candidates for SCS.

Methods: PARTICIPANTS underwent a series of quantitative sensory tests prior to, and seven days after the initiation of SCS trial. These tests included: vibration threshold (conducted using the VSA 3000; Medoc Inc., Ramat Ishay, Israel), cold threshold, warm threshold, heat pain threshold, phasic heat pain threshold, tonic heat pain threshold (conducted using the TSA 2001; Medoc Inc.), and electrical pain tolerance at 5, 250 and 2000 Hz (administered using the NerveScan 2000; Neurotron, Inc., Baltimore, MD, USA).

Results: Useful data were obtained from 12 patients. The results of the vibration threshold and the tolerance to electrical stimulation at 5 and 250 Hz changed with an SCS trial. These results also correlated with the decision regarding the permanent implantation, which was made independently of them. In contrast, the results of thermal thresholds and tolerance to electrical stimulation at 2000 Hz tests did not change with the SCS trial.

Conclusions: Our findings, which agree with those of a few other studies, suggest that the vibration threshold and the tolerance to electrical stimulation at 5 and 250 Hz tests can assist the clinician to select the right patients for permanent stimulation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cold Temperature
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Pain Threshold*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Vibration