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Evidence-Based Consensus Guidelines on Patient Selection and Trial Stimulation for Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain

Mar 31, 2023, 00:00 AM by ASRA Pain Medicine

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has demonstrated effectiveness for neuropathic pain. Unfortunately, some patients report inadequate long-term pain relief. Patient selection is emphasized for this therapy; however, the prognostic capabilities and deployment strategies of existing selection techniques, including an SCS trial, have been questioned. After approval by the Board of Directors of the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, a steering committee was formed to develop evidence-based guidelines for patient selection and the role of an SCS trial. Representatives of professional organizations with clinical expertise were invited to participate as committee members. Seven sections with a total of 39 recommendations were approved with 100% consensus from all the members. Sections included definitions and terminology of SCS trial; benefits of SCS trial; screening for psychosocial characteristics; patient perceptions on SCS therapy and the use of trial; other patient predictors of SCS therapy; conduct of SCS trials; and evaluation of SCS trials including minimum criteria for success. Recommendations included that SCS trial should be performed before a definitive SCS implant except in anginal pain (grade B). All patients must be screened with an objective validated instrument for psychosocial factors, and this must include depression (grade B). Despite some limitations, a trial helps patient selection and provides patients with an opportunity to experience the therapy. These recommendations are expected to guide practicing physicians and other stakeholders and should not be mistaken as practice standards. Physicians should continue to make their best judgment based on individual patient considerations and preferences.

Read the guidelines here.

These guidelines were published March 30, 2023, and will be reviewed again in 2026.


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