Despite the well-known clinical effects of spinal cord stimulation (SCS), the mechanisms of action have not yet been fully unraveled. The primary aim of this study was to measure whether electrochemical skin conductance, as a measure of peripheral sympathetic autonomic function, is altered by SCS. A second aim was to compare skin conductance levels of patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) with age-and sex-matched healthy controls. Twenty-three patients with FBSS treated with SCS participated in this study. Sudomotor function was measured with the Sudoscan™ instrument on the hands and feet during SCS on and off states. Difference scores in skin conductance between patients and age-and sex-matched healthy controls were calculated. Normal sudomotor function at the painful lower limb was revealed for 61% of the patients when SCS was activated. Skin conductance levels were not altered between on and off states of SCS. Differences in scores between patients and healthy controls were significantly different from zero. This study showed that SCS does not influencing the sympathetic nervous system in patients with FBSS, as measured by skin conductance levels. Moreover, it suggested that there is no normalization of the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system, despite the effectiveness of SCS to reduce pain intensity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Conflicts of Interest: Philippe Rigoard serves as a consultant for Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and Abbott. He received research grants from Abbott, Medtronic, and Boston Scientific. Maarten Moens has received speaker fees from Medtronic and Nevro. STIMULUS received research grants from Medtronic. There are no other conflict of interests to declare.
© 2021 by the authors.
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- Autonomic nervous system
- Chronic pain
- Electrodermal activity