Long-Term Outcome in Patients With Spinal Cord Stimulation for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: A 20-Year Audit of a Single Center

Neuromodulation. 2023 Oct;26(7):1433-1440. doi: 10.1016/j.neurom.2022.03.006. Epub 2022 May 14.


Study design: This is a retrospective, observational study.

Introduction: Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has found its application in chronic pain treatment, with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) as one of the most important indications. However, to date, little is known about the long-term effectiveness of the treatment. The aim of this study is to analyze retrospectively the long-term outcomes of SCS treatment in a single multidisciplinary pain center on predominant radicular pain, using devices of a single manufacturer.

Materials and methods: Patient data on overall patient satisfaction, pain intensity, and adverse events were retrospectively collected in our clinical practice between January 1998 and January 2018, for 191 patients who received a permanent SCS implant. Secondary health measures included the influence of opioid and nicotine use on pain reduction after therapy.

Results: The trial-to-implant ratio was 93.6%. At a mean follow-up of 10.6 years, 78.5% of the patients were satisfied with the treatment outcome, with a significant pain reduction of an average three points on a Numeric Rating Scale. Opioid and nicotine usage did not have a significant link with the pain reduction one year after the treatment. Furthermore, devices had an average battery lifespan of 8.4 years. A total of 248 revisions were recorded. A total of 24 patients (11.7%) acquired an infection; 7 of 204 patients had an infection during the trial period, 2 of 191 patients had an infection in the first postoperative year, and 15 of 191 patients had an infection after the first year. The average time to infection, if not in the first year, was 10.1 years.

Conclusions: A successful long-term outcome regarding pain relief in patients with predominant radicular pain due to FBSS is established with SCS therapy.

Keywords: Failed back surgery syndrome; nicotine use; opioid use; pain reduction; spinal cord stimulation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Nicotine
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Nicotine