OBJECTIVE: Despite the clinical effectiveness of Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS), potential structural brain modifications have not been explored. Our aim was to identify structural volumetric changes during subsensory SCS, in patients with Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS).
METHODS: In this cohort study, twenty-two FBSS patients underwent a magnetic resonance imaging protocol before SCS and 3 months after SCS. Clinical parameters were correlated with volumetric changes, calculated with voxel-based morphometry.
RESULTS: After 3 months, a significant volume decrease was found in the inferior frontal gyrus, precuneus, cerebellar posterior lobe and middle temporal gyrus. Significant increases were found in the inferior temporal gyrus, precentral gyrus and the middle frontal gyrus after SCS. Additionally, significant increases in volume of superior frontal and parietal white matter and a significant decrease in volume of white matter underlying the premotor/middle frontal gyrus were revealed after SCS. A significant correlation was highlighted between white matter volume underlying premotor/middle frontal gyrus and leg pain relief.
CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed for the first time that SCS is able to induce volumetric changes in gray and white matter, suggesting the reversibility of brain alterations after chronic pain treatment.
SIGNIFICANCE: Volumetric brain alterations are observable after 3 months of subsensory SCS in FBSS patients.