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Keywords:

  • spinal cord stimulation;
  • failed back surgery syndrome;
  • neuropathic pain;
  • minimal invasive pain therapy

Spinal cord stimulation is a minimally invasive mode of treatment in the management of certain forms of chronic pain that do not respond to conventional pain therapy. Several authors have reported encouraging findings with this technique. Over a 10-year period in a single centre, 254 patients were subjected to a trial period of spinal cord stimulation with an externalized pulse generator. Two hundred and seventeen of the patients showed satisfactory results justifying permanent implantation of a spinal cord stimulation system. In 1998, an independent physician invited 153 patients (155 pain cases), who still had the system in place and who could be contacted, for an interview. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of an implanted spinal cord stimulation system in terms of pain relief and quality of life and to assess the accuracy of the patient selection criteria. The results of this study demonstrate a high success rate as evaluated by the patients' own assessments—68% of the patients rated the result of the treatment as excellent to good after an average follow-up of almost 4 years. The resumption of work by 31% of patients who had been working before the onset of pain supports these positive findings.