Spinal cord stimulation in severe angina pectoris – A systematic review based on the Swedish Council on Technology assessment in health care report on long-standing pain

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Abstract

Patients who continue to suffer from lasting and severely disabling angina pectoris despite optimum drug treatment and who are not suitable candidates for invasive procedures, suffer from a condition referred to as “chronic refractory angina pectoris”. Based on the available data, spinal cord stimulation, SCS, is considered as the first-line additional treatment for these patients by the European Society of Cardiology. However, no systematic review of randomised controlled studies has yet been published. A systematic literature research, 1966–2003, as part of the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare (SBU) report on long-standing pain, and an additional research covering the years 2003–2007, were carried out. Acute studies, case reports and mechanistic reviews were excluded, and the remaining 43 studies were graded for study quality according to a modified Jadad score. The eight medium- to high-score studies formed the basis for conclusions regarding the scientific evidence (strong, moderately strong or limited) for the efficacy of SCS. There is strong evidence that SCS gives rise to symptomatic benefits (decrease in anginal attacks) and improved quality of life in patients with severe angina pectoris. There is also a strong evidence that SCS can improve the functional status of these patients, as illustrated by the improved exercise time on treadmill or longer walking distance without angina. In addition, SCS does not seem to have any negative effects on mortality in these patients (limited scientific evidence). The complication rate was found to be acceptable.

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