The effect of spinal cord stimulation, overall, and the effect of differing spinal cord stimulation technologies on pain, reduction in pain medication, sleep, and function

Neuromodulation. 2007 Apr;10(2):156-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1403.2007.00104.x.


Background. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is effective in reducing pain from a number of differing medical conditions that are refractory to other, more conservative treatments. Much is written in the literature regarding efficacy and safety of SCS; however, no one to our knowledge has compared and reported safety and efficacy of SCS when using differing manufactured SCS devices. We undertook such a preliminary evaluation. Methods. Charts from the years 2001-2005 of our clinic's patients who had undergone trials and placement of permanent SCS systems were selected for review. All patients who had received either an Advanced Bionics SCS system (Advanced Bionics, Valencia, CA, USA), an Advanced Neuromodulation Systems (ANS) SCS system (ANS, Plano, TX, USA), or a Medtronic SCS system (Medtronic, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, USA) were given a survey to complete for data analysis. Patients were categorized into three groups: those patients having received a Medtronic (Mdt) SCS system, those patients having received an Advance Bionics (ABi) SCS system, and those patients having received an Advance Neuromodulation Systems (ANS) SCS system. Data, limited to volunteers, who gave their written consent, were analyzed for efficacy and complications. Differences in outcomes and safety were analyzed overall and according to manufacturer. Results. Eighty surveys were mailed out to 80 patients and 30 surveys were completed and returned, a return and completion rate of 37.5%. All patients showed improvement in all aspects including pain relief, sleep, functional activities, and medication use for pain control. When comparing outcomes of SCS from the three different companies, there was no significant statistical difference in average percentage pain relief, sleep improvement, and medication needed for pain control. However, there was a statistically different less change in functional improvement in the ABi group when compared to patients in the Mdt and ANS groups. Conclusions. Spinal cord stimulation improves pain, sleep, and function in patients with intractable pain. Because of the low number of patients evaluable in this study, we believe that conclusions should not be made regarding the effect of technology on outcomes or safety. We believe that an analysis of this type in larger populations is warranted to understand the role, if any, that present-day technology has on outcomes of SCS.