Percutaneous Spinal Cord Stimulation Lead Placement Under Deep Sedation and General Anesthesia

Pain Ther. 2021 Dec;10(2):1719-1730. doi: 10.1007/s40122-021-00332-2. Epub 2021 Oct 15.


Introduction: Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a commonly utilized therapy for the treatment of neuropathic pain conditions. The Neurostimulation Appropriateness Consensus Committee (NACC) has recommended that the placement of percutaneous SCS leads be performed in an awake patient capable of providing feedback. It is not currently known how commonly this recommendation is adhered to by physicians in clinical practice. This article presents the findings of a survey designed to answer this important question.

Methods: We conducted a survey of the active membership of the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA) and the Spine Intervention Society (SIS) regarding practice patterns with SCS therapy. We analyzed the percent of respondents who indicated that they use deep sedation and general anesthesia during SCS placement as well as any reported complications.

Results: Many practitioners frequently utilize deep sedation as well as general anesthesia when performing SCS implants. Our findings demonstrate that 77% of physicians reported that they utilize deep sedation for permanent SCS implants at times, and 45% of physicians reported the use of general anesthesia for 10 kHz implants. Additionally, 94% of physicians reported that they have never had a complication related to the use of general anesthesia for a spinal cord stimulator placement.

Conclusions: This survey provides initial data on SCS practices among a large cohort of clinicians who utilize SCS. SCS lead placement under deep sedation and general anesthesia appears to be common practice for many physicians who perform implants. This survey should stimulate further research on this topic, given that the current safety guidelines and the rate of physicians reporting the use of deep sedation and general anesthesia for spinal cord stimulator placement remain at odds.

Keywords: 10 kHz stimulation; Chronic pain; Cylindrical electrodes; Neuromodulation; Patient safety; Spinal cord simulation.