European Journal of Anaesthesiology

Original Article

Spinal cord stimulation does not change peripheral skin blood flow in patients with neuropathic pain

M. Ather a1, P. Di Vadi a2, D. Light a1, J. R. Wedley a1 and W. C. Hamann a1a2c1
a1 Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, Pain Management Unit, London, UK
a2 University Hospital Lewisham, Department of Anaesthetics and Pain Management, London, UK

Article author query
ather m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
di vadi p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
light d   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
wedley jr   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
hamann wc   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Background and objective: Spinal cord stimulation has been used successfully for many years in the management of neuropathic pain. Nociceptive pathways are closely integrated into many autonomic reflexes. The aim was to test the hypothesis that pain relief caused by spinal cord stimulation is related to changes in peripheral skin blood flow.

Methods: Twelve patients with spinal cord stimulators implanted as a treatment for neuropathic pain were entered into the study. Laser Doppler perfusion scanning was used as a direct method for selective measurement of changes in skin (peripheral) blood flow. Measurements were taken before and after the onset of spinal cord stimulation over the site of its sensory projection. The degree of pain relief due to spinal cord stimulation and the skin temperature of each patient were also recorded.

Results: Apart from one patient, spinal cord stimulation did not change skin blood flow in a statistically significant manner.

Conclusions: Pain relief due to spinal cord stimulation is not related to changes of skin blood flow.

(Accepted October 2002)

Key Words: INVESTIGATIVE TECHNIQUES, laser Doppler flowmetry, rheology; NEUROLOGICAL MANIFESTATIONS, pain; PHYSICAL STIMULATION, electric stimulation, spinal cord.

c1 Correspondence to: Wolfgang Hamann, Department of Anaesthesia, 2nd Floor, New Guy's House, Guy's Hospital, St Thomas' Street, London, SE1 9RT, UK. E-mail:; Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 4047; Fax: +44 (0)20 7955 8844