Lack of Body Positional Effects on Paresthesias When Stimulating the Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) in the Treatment of Chronic Pain

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Abstract

Objectives:

One prominent side effect from neurostimulation techniques, and in particular spinal cord stimulation (SCS), is the change in intensity of stimulation when moving from an upright (vertical) to a recumbent or supine (horizontal) position and vice versa. It is well understood that the effects of gravity combined with highly conductive cerebrospinal fluid provide the mechanism by which changes in body position can alter the intensity of stimulation-induced paresthesias. While these effects are well established for leads that are placed within the more medial aspects of the spinal canal, little is known about these potential effects in leads placed in the lateral epidural space and in particular within the neural foramina near the dorsal root ganglion (DRG).

Materials and Methods:

We prospectively validated a newly developed paresthesia intensity rating scale and compared perceived paresthesia intensities when subjects assumed upright vs. supine bodily positions during neuromodulation of the DRG.

Results:

On average, the correlation coefficient between stimulation intensity (pulse amplitude) and perceived paresthesia intensity was 0.83, demonstrating a strong linear relationship. No significant differences in paresthesia intensities were reported within subjects when moving from an upright (4.5 ± 0.14) to supine position 4.5 (±0.12) (p > 0.05). This effect persisted through 12 months following implant.

Conclusions:

Neuromodulation of the DRG produces paresthesias that remain consistent across body positions, suggesting that this paradigm may be less susceptible to positional effects than dorsal column stimulation.

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