Dynamic Brain Imaging Response to Spinal Cord Stimulation Differential Frequencies DiFY SCS-PET clinical trial

Published:September 20, 2022DOI:



      This study with sequential 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)–computed tomography (CT) scanning was designed to investigate any objective measurable effect of differential frequency stimulation (40 Hz, 4000 Hz, and 10,000 Hz) on specific pain matrix areas in patients who underwent spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for intractable lumbar neuropathic pain.

      Materials and Methods

      In this single-center, randomized, blinded study, four brain 18F-FDG PET scans were performed for each patient—at baseline before SCS implant and after 40-Hz, 4000-Hz, and 10,000-Hz stimulation. After 40-Hz stimulation for four weeks, patients were randomized 1:1 (4000 Hz/10,000 Hz), crossing over at another four weeks. 18F-FDG PET-CT brain scans acquired on the GE-Discovery 710 PET system (GE Healthcare, Chicago, IL) with 128-slice CT (250-MBq dose) were analyzed using the PMOD software (PMOD Technologies Ltd, Zurich, Switzerland). A total of 18 pain regions, the right and left prefrontal cortex (PFC), insula, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), hippocampus, amygdala, primary somatosensory cortices, secondary somatosensory cortices (SSCII), thalami, parabrachial, and periaqueductal gray (PAG), were analyzed.


      A total of 14 patients received 40 Hz for four weeks before crossing over to 10,000 Hz/4000 Hz. A total of 57 PET-CT scans (15 for baseline and 14 each for 40 Hz, 4000 Hz, and 10,000 Hz) were analyzed for maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax), with a statistically significant difference in SUVmax between 40 Hz and baseline (p = 0.002) and 4000 Hz and baseline (p = 0.001) when pooled across 18 pain matrices. There was no statistical difference in SUVmax between 10,000 Hz and baseline. The pooled analysis showed a proportionately higher thalamic region reduction (59.5%) in metabolic activity than other pain matrices, PFC (52%), insula (50%), ACC (52%), SSCII (49%), and PAG (52%).


      This large cohort of brain PET scans (n = 57) shows statistically significant differences in brain metabolic activity at 40 Hz and 4000 Hz from baseline, with effect on both nociceptive and affect-cognitive pathways (proportionately higher reduction in the thalamus), highlighting the possible mechanism of SCS.

      Clinical Trial Registration

      The registration number for the study is NCT03716557.


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