Pain Management Vol. 11 No. 2 | Preliminary Communication

Retrospective analysis on the effect of spinal cord stimulation on opioid consumption


Aim: Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is used to clinically manage and/or treat several chronic pain etiologies. A limited amount is known about the influence on patients’ use of opioid pain medication. This retrospective analysis evaluated SCS effect on opioid consumption in patients presenting with chronic pain conditions. Materials & methods: Sixty-seven patients underwent a temporary trial device, permanent implant or both. Patients were divided for assessment based on the nature of their procedure(s). Primary outcome was change in morphine equivalent dose (MED), ascertained from preoperative and postoperative medication reports. Results: Postoperative MED was significantly lower in patients who received some form of neuromodulation therapy. Pretrial patients reported an average MED of 41.01 ± 10.23 mg per day while post-trial patients reported an average of 13.30 ± 5.34 mg per day (p < 0.001). Pre-implant patients reported an average MED of 39.14 ± 13.52 mg per day while post-implant patients reported an average MED of 20.23 ± 9.01 mg per day (p < 0.001). There were no significant differences between pre-trial and pre-implant MED, nor between post-trial and post-implant MED. Of the 42 study subjects who reported some amount of pre-intervention opioid use, 78.57% indicated a lower MED (n = 33; p < 0.001), 16.67% indicated no change (n = 7) and 4.76% (n = 2) indicated a higher MED, following intervention. Moreover, SCS therapy resulted in a 26.83% reduction (p < 0.001) in the number of patients with MED >50 mg per day. Conclusion: Spinal cord stimulation may reduce opioid use when implemented appropriately. Neuromodulation may represent alternative therapy for alleviating chronic pain which may avoid a number of deleterious side effects commonly associated with opioid consumption.

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