Spinal Epidural Neurostimulation for Treatment of Acute and Chronic Intractable Pain: Initial and Long Term Results

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Spinal epidural neurostimulation, which evolved from dorsal column stimulation, has been found to be effective in the treatment of acute and chronic intractable pain. Urban and Nashold have shown that it is a safe, simplified alternative to dorsal column stimulation, especially because laminectomy is not required if the electrodes are inserted percutaneously. Percutaneous epidural neurostimulation is also advantageous because there can be a diagnostic trial period before permanent internalization and implantation. This diagnostic and therapeutic modality has been used in 36 patients during the past 3 years at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Eleven of these patients had acute intractable pain, which was defined as pain of less than 1 year in duration. Initial postimplantation results from the 36 patients indicate that spinal epidural neurostimulation is most effective in treating the intractable pain of diabetes, arachnoiditis, and post-traumatic and postamputation neuroma. Long term follow-up, varying from 1 year to 3 years postimplantation in the 20 initially responding patients, indicates that the neurostimulation continues to provide significant pain relief (50% or greater) in a majority of the patients who experienced initial significant pain relief.

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