March 17, 2014
1 min read

Spinal cord stimulator success depends on time factors

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Patients who waited less than 2 years for a spinal cord stimulator implant experienced success rates of 75% compared with a success rates of 15% in patients who waited 20 years after the onset of pain to receive the implant, according to a retrospective analysis.

The investigators involved in a poster presentation scheduled to be presented at the recent American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) Annual Meeting reported their findings in a press release from the AAPM.

Fewer than 50% of all patients report long-term success with spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for treatment of chronic pain, they noted in the release.

“The success of SCS is time sensitive, in that as wait times decline, long-term outcomes with SCS are enhanced,” Krishna Kumar, MD, of Regina General Hospital, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, stated.

The study included 443 patients who received SCS. Starting with the initial pain diagnosis, investigators examined points of delay to referral for SCS implantation by primary care physicians and specialists. Patients first saw a physician 3.4 months after developing a pain syndrome. The mean time to implantation from the first symptoms was 5.12 years. Neurosurgeons were quickest to refer these patients and non-implanting anesthetists were most likely to delay implantation, according to the release, which noted that treatment was 2.15 years longer if a non-implanting anesthetist versus a neurosurgeon referred the patient.

“Chronic pain is a disease unto itself, which is responsible for physical and psychological suffering. The importance of timely treatment must, therefore, be recognized by all physicians,” Kumar stated.

Shortened wait times could significantly improve the success rates for SCS, he stated.


Kumar K. Poster #113. Presented at: American Academy of Pain Medicine Annual Meeting; March 5-9, 2014; Phoenix.