Spinal cord stimulation: a valuable treatment for chronic failed back surgery patients

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1997 May;13(5):296-301. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(96)00322-3.


Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been used in the treatment of "chronic failed back surgery syndrome" for many years. To evaluate long-term results and cost effectiveness of SCS, we interviewed 69 patients treated during a period of 13 years. Twenty-six patients stopped using SCS; there was no clear explanation for this unsatisfactory result in 10. Forty-three patients continued with the therapy and obtained good pain relief. Electrode breakage either spontaneous or due to a procedure to obtain better stimulation paresthesias was more frequent in the radiofrequency-coupled system group than in the battery group (mean +/- SEM 2.81 +/- 2.0 versus 1.42 +/- 1.51, respectively; P = 0.0018). Ten patients obtained better pain relief than during the trial procedure. Some still need opioid analgesics, but 11 of the 16 who require these drugs obtained a synergistic effect when concomitantly using the stimulator. Eleven patients have returned to work. In our center, the application of SCS costs on average $3660 per patient per year. Although this seems expensive, it may be a cost-effective treatment if other therapies fail.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Back Pain / surgery*
  • Back Pain / therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retreatment
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology*
  • Syndrome
  • Treatment Failure