Spinal cord stimulation for treatment of chronic neuropathic pain in adolescent patients: a single-institution series, systematic review, and individual participant data meta-analysis

Salma M. Bakr, James A. Knight, Nathan A. Shlobin, Hailey Budnick, Virendra Desai, Haley Hill, Sarah K. Johnson, Amy E. Williams, James A. Tolley, Jeffrey S. Raskin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE Neuropathic pain is undertreated in children. Neurosurgical treatments of pediatric chronic pain are limited by the absence of both US Food and Drug Administration approval and pediatric-specific hardware, as well as weak referral patterns due to a lack of physician education. This study presents a single-institution retrospective case series of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) in children ≤ 19 years of age and a systematic review of SCS in children. The authors’ findings may further validate the role of SCS as an effective treatment modality for varied neuropathic pain syndromes found in pediatric patients. METHODS The study was a single-center, single-surgeon, retrospective case series of individuals treated between July 2017 and May 2022. The outcomes for pediatric patients with chronic neuropathic pain syndromes indicated by the multidisciplinary pain clinic for evaluation for SCS were cataloged. A systematic review and individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis was performed for cases treated until May 2022, using PubMed, EMBASE, and Scopus to characterize outcomes of children with neuropathic pain treated with SCS. RESULTS Twelve patients were evaluated and 9 were indicated for percutaneous or buried lead trials. Seven female and 2 male patients between the ages of 13 and 19 years were implanted with trial leads. Eight of 9 (89%) patients went on to receive permanent systems. The average trial length was 6 days, and the length of stay for both trial and implant was less than 1 day. Complication rates due to CSF leaks were 22% and 0% for trial and implant, respectively. Visual analog scale pain scores decreased from 9.2 to 2.9 (p = 0.0002) and the number of medications decreased from 4.9 to 2.1 (p = 0.0005). Functional status also improved for each patient. A systematic review identified 13 studies describing pediatric patients with SCS, including 12 providing IPD on 30 patients. In the IPD meta-analysis, pain was reduced in 16/16 (100%) of patients following surgery and in 25/26 (96.2%) at last follow-up. Medication use was decreased in 16/21 (76.2%), and functional outcomes were improved in 29/29 (100%). The complication rate was 5/30 (16.7%). CONCLUSIONS SCS effectively decreases pain and medication use for pediatric neuropathic pain syndromes. Patients also report improved functional status, including improved matriculation, gainful employment, and physical activity. There is minimal high-quality literature describing neuromodulation for pain in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE13
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Chronic pain
  • Neuromodulation
  • Neurostimulation
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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