Cephalad lead migration following spinal cord stimulation implantation

Pain Physician. 2012 Jan-Feb;15(1):E79-87.


Lead migration (LM) is the most common complication after spinal cord stimulation (SCS). Although multiple reports of caudad LM have been described, cephalad LM has not been reported. Here we describe a case in which a stimulator lead migrates in the cephalad direction. A 60-year-old male with failed back surgery syndrome underwent SCS lead implantation via a dual lead approach to the top of vertebral body (VB) T9. A standard strain relief loop was used for each lead in the paramedian pocket. Postoperative testing revealed 100% paresthesia coverage of the painful areas. For the first 4 days, the patient continued to have excellent coverage; however, by the seventh day, the paresthesias ascended to above the nipple line. At the 2-week follow-up, cephalad migration of the left lead to the top of VB T1 was confirmed on fluoroscopy. The patient underwent successful lead revision in which a single paramedian incision technique was used to place extra sutures and a "figure-of-eight" strain relief loop. We provide the first case report of significant cephalad LM following SCS lead implantation. This migration can occur despite the use of current standard anchoring techniques. Additional investigation into the mechanism of such LM and lead-securing techniques is warranted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Electrodes
  • Foreign-Body Migration*
  • Humans
  • Implantable Neurostimulators / adverse effects*
  • Low Back Pain / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Spinal Cord / surgery*