Clinical Science| Volume 26, ISSUE 1, P115-123, January 2023

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Health Care Resource Utilization of High-Frequency Spinal Cord Stimulation for Treatment of Chronic Refractory Low Back Pain



      Chronic refractory low back pain (CRLBP) is a diagnosis characterized by chronic low back pain in patients who are poor candidates for surgery and fail conservative management. High-frequency spinal cord stimulation (HF-SCS) is a new advance in neuromodulation that may be effective in treating these patients. However, the cost burden of this therapy is yet undetermined.

      Materials and Methods

      IBM MarketScan® (IBM, Armonk, NY) data bases were used to retrospectively identify patients with HF-SCS implantation between 2016 and 2019 in the United States. Those with low back pain diagnosis without history of surgery were included in the cohort. Cost data, including inpatient and outpatient service, medication, and out-of-pocket costs, were collected at six months before HF-SCS implantation and one, three, and six months after implantation. The explant rate within six months was evaluated.


      A total of 119 patients met the inclusion criteria. Most patients were female (73.1%) and owned commercial insurance (83.2%). Common comorbidities included inflammatory arthritis (22.7%), depression (26.1%), hypertension (44.5%), and obesity (26.1%). In the six months before HF-SCS implantation, patients incurred median total costs of $15,766 (first quartile [Q1]: $8,847; third quartile [Q3]: $24,947), whereas the postimplant median total cost excluding device acquisition was $398 (Q1: $145, Q3: $1,272) at one month, $2,569 (Q1: $823, Q3: $5,266) at three months, and $5,840 (Q1: $2,160; Q3: $14,607) at six months. The average reduction in total cost was $6,914 (95% CI: $588, $12,458, p < 0.001). The median total acquisition cost was $43,586 (Q1: $29,506, Q3: $69,426), with most coming from outpatient services. Of 88 patients with six-month continuous enrollment, two (2.3%) had device explant.


      We present an analysis using large claims data bases of the cost of HF-SCS for treating CRLBP and show that it may be associated with a significant decrease in total health care costs, offsetting device acquisition costs in 27 months. As advances in neuromodulation expand therapy options for patients, it will be important to understand their financial implications.


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