Theoretical investigation into longitudinal cathodal field steering in spinal cord stimulation

L. Manola, J. Holsheimer, Petrus H. Veltink, Kerry Bradley, David Peterson

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    12 Citations (Scopus)
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    Objective. In spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for chronic pain management, precise longitudinal positioning of the cathode is crucial to generate an electrical field capable of targeting the neural elements involved in pain relief. Presently used methods have a poor spatial resolution and lack postoperative flexibility needed for fine tuning and reprogramming the stimulation field after lead displacement or changes in pain pattern. We describe a new method, “electrical field steering��?, to control paresthesia in SCS. The method takes advantage of newer stimulator design and a programming technique allowing for ‘continuous‘ adjustment of contact combination while controlling stimulation current for each contact separately. Methods. Using computer modeling we examined how stimulation of dorsal column (DC) and dorsal root (DR) fibers was influenced by changing the current ratio of the cathodes of a dual (- -) and a guarded dual cathode (+ - - +) configuration programmed on a percutaneous lead with 9 and 4 mm center-to-center contact spacing. Results. A cathodal current ratio could be found for which DC or DR fiber recruitment and thus most likely paresthesia coverage was maximized. The DR threshold profiles shifted longitudinally, thus following the shift in the electrical field during steering. The profiles had a constant shape when the contact spacing was small and a varying shape for wider contact separation. Generally, the wider contact separation provided less DC and more DR fiber recruitment. Conclusions. 1) By means of cathodal steering on a longitudinal contact array the group of excited DC and DR fibers and thus paresthesia coverage can be controlled in SCS. 2)With widely spaced contacts, superposition of the electrical field from each steering contact is limited. 3) To precisely control segmental paresthesia (DR stimulation), a small contact spacing is necessary.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)120-132
    Number of pages13
    Issue number1/2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


    • Spinal cord stimulation
    • percutaneous lead
    • EWI-8169
    • dorsal roots
    • BSS-Biomechatronics and rehabilitation technology
    • METIS-241668
    • IR-61454
    • (guarded) dual cathode
    • Dorsal columns
    • electrical steering

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