Exceptional Cases of Spinal Cord Stimulation for the Treatment of Refractory Cancer-Related Pain

Bulat, E.; Chakravarthy, V.; Crowther, J.; Rakesh, N.; Barzilai, O.; Gulati, A.

Neuromodulation Journal of the International Neuromodulation Society 26(5): 1051-1058

2023


ISSN/ISBN: 1525-1403
PMID: 35941017
Accession: 080176491

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Abstract
Cancer pain has traditionally been managed with opioids, adjuvant medications, and interventions including injections, neural blockade, and intrathecal pump (ITP). Spinal cord stimulation (SCS), although increasingly used for conditions such as failed back surgery syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome, is not currently recommended for cancer pain. However, patients with cancer-related pain have demonstrated benefit with SCS. We sought to better characterize these patients and the benefit of SCS in exceptional cases of refractory pain secondary to progression of disease or evolving treatment-related complications. This was a single-center, retrospective case series at a tertiary cancer center. Adults ≥18 years old with active cancer and evolving pain secondary to disease progression or treatment, whose symptoms were refractory to systemic opioids, and who underwent SCS trial followed by percutaneous implantation between 2016 and 2021 were included. Descriptive statistics included mean, SD, median, and interquartile range (IQR). Eight patients met the inclusion criteria. The average age at SCS trial was 60.0 (SD: ±11.6) years, and 50% were men. Compared with baseline, the median (IQR) change in pain score by numeric rating scale (NRS) after trial was -3 (2). At an average of 14 days after implant, the median (IQR) change in NRS and daily oral morphine equivalents were -2 (3.5) and -126 mg (1095 mg), respectively. At a median of 63 days after implant, the corresponding values were -3 (0.75) and -96 mg (711 mg). There was no significant change in adjuvant therapies after SCS implantation at follow-up. Six patients were discharged within two days after implantation. Two patients were readmitted for pain control within the follow-up period. In patients with cancer-related pain, SCS may significantly relieve pain, reduce systemic daily opioid consumption, and potentially decrease hospital length of stay and readmission for pain control. It may be appropriate to consider an SCS trial before ITP in select cases of cancer-related pain.