Subcortical electrical stimulation for control of intractable pain in humans. Report of 122 cases (1970-1984)

J Neurosurg. 1986 Apr;64(4):543-53. doi: 10.3171/jns.1986.64.4.0543.


Chronic electrical stimulation of the subcortical area of the brain by implanted electrodes provides satisfactory control of a number of intractable pain syndromes that are refractory to medication. This series of 122 patients who underwent electrode implantation for the control of severe chronic pain was evaluated over a follow-up period of 2 to 14 years. Of the 65 patients with pain of peripheral origin, who were treated with stimulation of the periaqueductal gray region (PAG), 50 obtained successful pain control. Of 76 patients with a deafferentation pain syndrome, 44 obtained control of the dysesthesia with stimulation of the subcortical somatosensory region. Nineteen patients with both leg and back pain received electrodes in the PAG and the somatosensory regions; whereas back pain was relieved by PAG stimulation, dysesthetic leg pain was controlled more effectively by somatosensory region stimulation. The electrical stimulation technique appears to provide long-term pain control safely, with few side effects or complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy* / methods
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Intractable / therapy*
  • Periaqueductal Gray
  • Somatosensory Cortex
  • Thalamus