Wireless peripheral nerve stimulation for complex regional pain syndrome type I of the upper extremity: a case illustration introducing a novel technology.
Scand J Pain. 2018 07 26 ;18(3):555-560. PMID: 29794269
Background Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a debilitating painful disorder, cryptic in its pathophysiology and refractory condition with limited therapeutic options. Type I CRPS with its variable relationship to trauma has often no discernible fractures or nerve injuries and remains enigmatic in its response to conservative treatment as well as the other limited interventional therapies. Neuromodulation in the form of spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion stimulation (SCS, DRGS) has shown encouraging results, especially of causalgia or CRPS I of lower extremities. Upper extremity CRPS I is far more difficult. Objective To report a case of upper extremity CRPS I treated by wireless peripheral nerve stimulation (WPNS) for its unique features and minimally invasive technique. The system does not involve implantation of battery or its connections. Case report A 47 year old female patient presented with refractory CRPS I following a blunt trauma to her right forearm. As interventional treatment in the form of local anesthetics (Anesthesia of peripheral branches of radial nerve) and combined infusions of ketamine/lidocaine failed to provide any significant relief she opted for WPNS treatment. Based on the topographic distribution, two electrodes (Stimwave Leads: FR4A-RCV-A0 with tines, Generation 1 and FR4A-RCV-B0 with tines, Generation 1), were placed along the course of radial and median nerves under ultrasonography monitoring and guided by intraoperative stimulation. This procedure did not involve implantation of extension cables or the power source. At a frequency of 60 Hz and 300μs the stimulation induced paresthesia along the distribution of the nerves. Therapeutic relief was observed with high frequency (HF) stimulation (HF 10 kHz/32 μs, 2.0 mA) reducing her pain from a visual analogue scale (VAS) score of 7-4 postoperatively. Three HF stimulations programs were provided at the time of discharge, as she improved in her sensory impairment to touch, pressure and temperature at her first follow up visit. At 5-months she was able to drive, did not require opioids and allodynia disappeared. Conclusions In a case with difficult CRPS I involving upper extremity, a minimally invasive WPNS of radial and median nerves provided good symptomatic relief. The procedure was tolerated well and both electrodes remained in place without any adverse events. Implications In view of the very limited options currently available to manage CRPS, WPNS can be a promising therapeuticmodality.