Clinical Science| Volume 26, ISSUE 3, P666-675, April 2023

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Subcutaneous Stimulation as Add-on Therapy to Spinal Cord Stimulation in Patients With Persistent Spinal Pain Syndrome Significantly Increases the Total Electrical Charge per Second: Aspects on Stimulation Parameters and Energy Requirements of the Implanted Neurostimulators



      In our previous multicenter randomized controlled trial, we demonstrated the clinical effectiveness of peripheral nerve field stimulation (PNFS) as add-on therapy to spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for the treatment of chronic back pain in patients with persistent spinal pain syndrome (PSPS) or failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). To our knowledge, no previous study has investigated the effect of PNFS as an add-on to SCS on the energy consumption of the implanted neurostimulators. Therefore, in this study, we compared the specific stimulation parameters and energy requirements of a previously unreported group of patients with only SCS with those of a group of patients with SCS and add-on PNFS. We also investigated differences that might explain the need for PNFS in the treatment of chronic low back pain.

      Materials and Methods

      We analyzed 75 patients with complete sets of stimulation parameters, with 21 patients in the SCS-only group and 54 patients in the SCS + PNFS group. Outcome measures were average visual analog scale score, SCS parameters (voltage, frequency, and pulse width), SCS charge per second, and total charge per second. We analyzed baseline characteristics and differences between and within groups over time.


      Both groups had comparable patient characteristics at baseline and showed a significant decrease in back and leg pain. SCS charge per second did not significantly differ between the groups at baseline or at 12 months. The total charge per second was significantly higher in the active SCS + PNFS group than in the SCS-only group at baseline; in the SCS + PNFS group, this persisted for up to 12 months, and the SCS charge per second and total charge per second increased significantly over time.


      Our results show that add-on PNFS increases the total charge per second compared with SCS alone, as expected. However, further research is needed because our results do not directly explain why some patients require add-on PNFS to treat low back pain.


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