Subcutaneous Stimulation as an Additional Therapy to Spinal Cord Stimulation for the Treatment of Low Back Pain and Leg Pain in Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: Four-Year Follow-Up.Neuromodulation. 2015 Oct; 18(7):618-22; discussion 622.N
The objective of this study is to investigate the efficacy of long-term follow-up of subcutaneous stimulation (SubQ) as an additional therapy for patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) with chronic refractory pain, for whom spinal cord stimulation (SCS) alone was unsuccessful in treating low back pain.
Prospective case series.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
FBSS patients with leg and/or low back pain whose conventional therapies had failed, received a combination of SCS (8-contact Octad lead, 3877-45 cm, Medtronic, Minneapolis, MN, USA) and/or SubQ (4-contact Quad Plus lead (s), 2888-28 cm, Medtronic). Initially, an Octad lead was placed in the epidural space for SCS for a trial stimulation to assess the suppression of leg and/or low back pain. Where SCS alone was insufficient in treating low back pain, lead(s) were placed superficially in the subcutaneous tissue of the lower back, exactly in the middle of the pain area. A pulse generator (Prime Advanced, 37702, Medtronic) was implanted if the patient reported more than 50% pain relief during the trial period. We investigated the long-term effect of neuromodulation on pain with the visual analog scale (VAS), and disability using the Quebec Pain Disability Scale. The results after 46 months are presented.
Eleven patients, five men and six women (age 51 ± 8 years, mean ± SD) were included in the pilot study. In nine cases, SCS was used in combination with SubQ leads. Two patients received only SubQ leads. In one patient, the SCS + SubQ system was removed after nine months and these results were not taken into account for the analysis. Baseline scores for leg (N = 8) and low back pain (N = 10) were VASbl: 59 ± 15 and VASbl: 63 ± 14, respectively. The long-term follow-up period was 46 ± 4 months. SCS significantly reduced leg pain after 12 months (VAS12: 20 ± 11, p12 = 0.001) and 46 months (VAS46: 37 ± 17, p46 = 0.027). Similarly, SubQ significantly reduced back pain after 12 months(VAS12: 33 ± 16, p12 = 0.001) and 46 months (VAS46: 40 ± 21, p46 = 0.013). At 12 months, the Quebec Pain Disability Scale (QPDS) was 49 ± 12 and after 46 months, 53 ± 15. Both at 12 and 46 months, the QPDS values were statistically significantly better (p12 = 0.001, p46 = 0.04) compared with baseline values (QPDSbl: 61 ± 15). In one patient, the pain suppressive effect of SCS/SubQ had disappeared completely over time and the pain scores returned to prestimulation values. In four, patients back pain scores increased over time due to new issues (SI-joint problems, degenerative spine problems, disc problems, and hip pain) unrelated to FBSS and for which SCS/SubQ was not targeted or a reason for implantation at the start of the pilot study.
This is the first prospective report on the combined use of SCS and SubQ with a follow-up period of four years. These data show that SCS and/or SubQ provide persistent long-term pain relief for leg and back pain in patients with FBSS. One should also take into account that new back/leg pain problems may evolve over time and increase the pain score which impact overall pain treatment.
SCS combined with SubQ can be considered an effective long term treatment for low back pain in patients with FBSS for whom SCS alone is insufficient in alleviating their pain symptoms.