Lumbar and sacral nerve root stimulation (NRS) in the treatment of chronic pain: A novel anatomic approach and neuro stimulation technique

Kenneth Alo, Marc J. Yland, Vladimir Redko, Claudio Feler, Claus Naumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Objective. The conventional technique used to stimulate the lumbar dermatomes is by stimulation of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord. Until recently, stimulation of nerve roots had not been successfully accomplished. We had performed selective nerve root cannulations for the placement of temporary catheters at cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral levels in chronic pain patients using a caudad rather than craniad approach. We hypothesized that by stimulating the nerve roots we could improve paresthesia coverage in areas which cannot be covered effectively by spinal cord stimulation (SCS). To test this hypothesis, we have performed trials of nerve root stimulation (NRS) in patients who had failed SCS, or who were not candidates for SCS because their pain was otherwise inaccessible to stimulation. Methods. Five patients who had been unresponsive to conservative treatment, surgery, or SCS underwent 7-day trials with NRS. The diagnoses included: ilioinguinal neuralgia, discogenic low back pain, failed back syndrome, vulvodynia, and interstitial cystitis. We collected paresthesia maps, pain maps, pain visual analog scale (VAS) scores, and patient satisfaction ratings. Results. Paresthesia coverage was above 75% in all patients. VAS scores declined from a mean of 9 ± 1.0 to 2.4 ± 2.1 (p < 0.05, n = 5), all 5 patients requested permanent implantation, and 4 have been implanted so far. Conclusions. Lumbar and sacral NRS trials resulted in adequate paresthesia coverage and effective pain relief in all 5 patients. Further clinical trials to evaluate longterm success rates and safety are indicated. Detailed mapping studies are needed to evaluate the relationship between electrode placement and paresthesia patterns as well as the optimal stimulation parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


  • Dorsal column stimulation
  • Electric stimulation
  • Neuromodulation
  • Pain
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Spinal nerve roots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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