Objective. To evaluate the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation using multiple independent programmable electrode selections compared to simple continuous stimulation. Design. Prospective case series 2 years. Setting. Ambulatory care center. Patients. All chronic pain patients who underwent spinal cord stimulation treatment at our center from February 1995 until October 1996 entered the study as a consecutive sample (n = 80). Interventions. Patients were evaluated in continuous stimulation mode (single stimulation program) vs. multi-stimulation mode, (patients activate a series of stimulation programs simultaneously to cover all of their pain) and patient-controlled stimulation mode (patients can select a program in response to their activities and pain level). Outcome measures. We collected visual analog pain scores, patient satisfaction scores by stimulation mode, and paresthesia maps. Results. Mean pain scores declined from 8.1 at baseline to 4.6 with continuous stimulation, and to 3.1 with multi-stimulation and with patient-controlled stimulation (p<0.05). Paresthesia overlap improved from 74% with continuous stimulation to 91% with multi-stimulation, and to 89% with patient-controlled stimulation (p<0.05). None of the patients selected continuous stimulation. Thirty-two patients preferred multi-stimulation, and 48 patients preferred patient-controlled stimulation. Lead revision rates declined from 15% in our previous experience using continuous stimulation to 3.8%. Conclusions. Continuous stimulation was not selected by any patient in favor of multi-stimulation or patient-controlled stimulation. This study indicates that in spinal cord stimulation the use of multiple electrodes together with advanced programmability increases paresthesia overlap, reduces pain scores, reduces revision rates, and improves patient satisfaction with spinal cord stimulation therapy.
1998 Blackwell Science, Inc.