Retrospective review of 707 cases of spinal cord stimulation: indications and complications

Nagy A Mekhail, Manu Mathews, Fady Nageeb, Maged Guirguis, Mark N Mekhail, Jianguo Cheng
Pain Practice: the Official Journal of World Institute of Pain 2011, 11 (2): 148-53
Appropriate patient selection and minimizing complications are critical for successful spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy in managing intractable pain. We thus reviewed electronic medical records of 707 consecutive cases of patients who received SCS therapy in the Cleveland Clinic from 2000 to 2005 with an emphasis on indications and complications. SCS was used to treat complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) (345 cases), failed back surgery syndrome (235 cases), peripheral vascular disease (20 cases), visceral pain in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis (37 cases), and peripheral neuropathy (70 cases). CRPS and failed back surgery syndrome accounted for 82% of the cases. The implant-to-trial ratio was 75% on average, with the highest for CRPS type 2 (83%) and the lowest for peripheral vascular diseases (65%). The only documented complication associated with SCS trials was lead migration in 5 of 707 patients (0.7%). There were no permanent neurological deficits or deaths as a result of SCS implant or its complications. Hardware-related complications were common (38%) and included lead migration (22.6%), lead connection failure (9.5%), and lead breakage (6%). Revisions or replacements were required in these cases. Biologically related complications included pain at the generator site (12%) and clinical infection (4.5%; 2.5% with positive culture). The rates of infection varied among the different diagnoses with the highest in failed back surgery syndrome (6.3%). Patients with diabetes had an infection rate of 9%, over the 4% in non-diabetics. Infections were managed successfully with explantation and antibiotic therapy without permanent sequela.

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