The incidence of spinal cord injury in implantation of percutaneous and paddle electrodes for spinal cord stimulation
Objective Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been proven effective for multiple chronic pain syndromes. Over the past 40 years of use, the complication rates of SCS have been well defined in the literature; however, the incidence of one of the most devastating complications, spinal cord injury (SCI), remains largely unknown. The goal of the study was to quantify the incidence of SCI in both percutaneous and paddle electrode implantation. Methods We conducted a retrospective review of the Thomson Reuter's MarketScan database of all patients that underwent percutaneous or paddle SCS implantation from 2000 to 2009. The main outcome measures of the study were the incidence of SCI and spinal hematoma within 30 days following operation. Results Overall 8326 patients met inclusion criteria for the study (percutaneous: 5458 vs. paddle: 2868). The overall incidence of SCI was 177 (2.13%) (percutaneous: 128 (2.35%) vs. paddle: 49 (1.71%), p = 0.0556). The overall incidence of spinal hematoma was 59 (0.71%) (percutaneous: 41 (0.75%) vs. paddle: 18 (0.63%), p = 0.5230). Conclusion Our study shows that the overall incidence of SCI in SCS is low (2.13%), supporting that SCS is a safe procedure. No significant difference was found in the rates of SCI or spinal hematoma between the percutaneous and paddle groups. Further studies are needed to characterize the mechanisms of SCI in SCS and long-term outcomes in these patients.