Long-Term Outcome of Spinal Cord Stimulation in Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: 20 Years of ExperienceWith 224 Consecutive Patients

Neurosurgery (84) 5-1011–1018

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a challenging condition that lacks a curative treatment. In selected patients, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has provided a satisfactory outcome.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the long-term outcome of SCS in FBSS, as measured by (1) the explantation rate, (2) complications, and (3) patient satisfaction with the global perceived effect (GPE).

METHODS: We studied 224 consecutive FBSS patients who underwent an SCS trial with surgically implanted leads at our hospital between January 1996 and December 2014. The patients’ satisfaction with the GPE of treatment was measured through a postal questionnaire at the end of follow-up.

RESULTS: Based on a 1-wk trial, permanent SCS was implanted in 175 (78%) patients. Out of these patients, 153 (87%) reported satisfactory outcomes after 2 mo. During the mean follow-up of 6 yr, 34 (19%) of SCS devices were permanently explanted due to inadequate pain relief, and 11 (6%) were explanted for other reasons. Electrode revision due to inadequate pain relief was done for 22 patients. In total, 26 complications were reported due to: 7 deep infections, 11 hardwaremalfunctions, 1 subcutaneous hematoma, 4 instances of discomfort due to the pulse generator, and 3 electrode migrations. One hundred thirty patients (74%) continued with SCS until the end of follow-up. Of them, 61 (47%) returned the questionnaire, and 42 (69%) reported substantially improved or better GPE.

CONCLUSION: SCS can provide a good outcome in the treatment of FBSS. Patient selection could be further improved by developing novel predictive biomarkers.