Complications of Spinal Cord Stimulation and Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Techniques: A Review of the Literature

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Spinal cord and peripheral neurostimulation techniques have been practiced since 1967 for the relief of pain, and some techniques are also used for improvement in organ function. Neuromodulation has recognized complications, although very rarely do these cause long-term morbidity. The aim of this article is to present a review of complications observed in patients treated with neurostimulation techniques.


A review of the major recent publications in the literature on the subjects of spinal cord, occipital, sacral, and peripheral nerve field stimulation was conducted.


The incidence of complications reported varies from 30% to 40% of patients affected by one or more complications. Adverse events can be subdivided into hardware-related complications and biological complications. The commonest hardware-related complication is lead migration. Other lead related complications such as failure or fracture have also been reported. Common biological complications include infection and pain over the implant. Serious biological complications such as dural puncture headache and neurological damage are rarely observed.


Spinal cord and peripheral neurostimulation techniques are safe and reversible therapies. Hardware-related complications are more commonly observed than biological complications. Serious adverse events such as neurological damage are rare.

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