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Ninety-Hz Spinal Cord Stimulation-Induced Analgesia Is Dependent on Active Charge Balance and Is Nonlinearly Related to Amplitude: A Sham-Controlled Behavioral Study in a Rodent Model of Chronic Neuropathic Pain.

BACKGROUND: Ninety-Hz active-recharge spinal cord stimulation (SCS) applied at below sensory-threshold intensity, as used with fast-acting subperception therapy spinal cord stimulation, has been shown clinically to produce significant analgesia, but additional characterization is required to better understand the therapy. This preclinical study investigates the behavioral effect of multiple 90-Hz SCS variants in a rodent model of neuropathic pain, focusing on charge balance and the relationship between 90-Hz efficacy and stimulation intensity.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Rats (n = 24) received a unilateral partial sciatic nerve ligation to induce neuropathic pain and were implanted with a quadripolar lead at T13. Mechanical hypersensitivity was assessed before, during, and after 60 minutes of SCS. After a prescreen with 50-Hz SCS 67% motor threshold ([MT], the positive control), rats underwent a randomized-crossover study including sham SCS and several 90-Hz SCS paradigms (at 40% MT or 60% MT, either using active or pseudopassive recharge) (experiment 1, n = 16). A second, identical experiment (experiment 2) was performed to supplement data with 90-Hz SCS at 20% and 80% MT (experiment 2, n = 8).

RESULTS: Experiment 1: At 40% MT, 90-Hz active-recharge SCS produced a significantly larger recovery to baseline than did 90-Hz pseudopassive SCS at both tested intensities and sham SCS. Experiment 2: Only the 90-Hz SCS active recharge at 40% MT and 50-Hz SCS positive control caused mean recovery to baseline that was statistically better than that of sham SCS.

CONCLUSIONS: The degree to which 90-Hz SCS reduced mechanical hypersensitivity during stimulation depended on the nature of charge balance, with 90-Hz active-recharge SCS generating better responses than did 90-Hz pseudopassive recharge SCS. In addition, our findings suggest that the amplitude of 90-Hz active-recharge SCS must be carefully configured for efficacy.

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