Using an implanted device to deliver electrical impulses may increase the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for severe back pain, suggests a study in the journal Neurosurgery.
The "tripolar lead" device helps maximize the benefits of SCS for patients and may lead to expanded use of electrical stimulation techniques, according to researchers at the Poitiers University School of Medicine in France.
In SCS, a mild electrical current is applied to electrodes implanted along the spine. For many patients with back and leg pain that doesn’t respond to other therapies, the stimulation produces a numbness that overcomes the pain. Spinal cord stimulation has been most effective against "radicular" pain spreading down the leg.
The new research, led by Dr. Philippe Rigoard, evaluated a new approach to SCS in 11 patients with severe pain. All underwent surgical implantation of a recently approved stimulation device that includes three columns of electrodes, rather than just one.
After six months on stimulation, the patients reported significant improvements in back and leg pain. On a scale of 0 to 10, the average total pain score decreased from 8.2 to 2.25.
"This may lead physicians to reconsider new indications for spinal cord stimulation," said Rigoard and colleagues conclude.