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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care
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Minerva Anestesiologica 2001 November;67(11):803-10


language: Italian

Spinal cord stimulation and quality of life in patients with refractory angina

Rapati D., Capucci R., Berti M., Danelli G., Torri G., Alfieri O.

Istituto Scientifico Ospedale S. Raffaele - Milano Servizio di Anestesia e Rianimazione *Divisione di Cardiochirurgia


Background. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a treatment that exploits the antalgic and vasodilatory effects on the microcirculation produced by a stimulating electrode positioned in the peridural space. This therapy has been used for years in the treatment of refractory angina pectoris. The aim of this study was to monitor the clinical effectiveness of the technique in terms of symptomatic benefits and, above all, improved quality of life in angina patients undergoing SCS.
Methods. From November 1998 to December 2000 we used SCS to treat 17 patients with refractory angina (functional class III or IV Canadian Cardiovascular Society) with onset more than one year earlier. All patients had undergone one or more traditional revascularisation procedures and were receiving maximum drug therapy. Patients were assigned to SCS because it was not technically possible to perform other revascularisation procedures. Quality of life was measured before and after treatment using a multidimensional index (QL Spitzer’s index). We also noted the mortality, acceptance and morbidity of the procedure during a follow-up lasting 10 months on average. Lastly, the number of weekly anginal pain attacks, weekly nitrate consumption and CCS functional class were recorded before treatment and 1, 3 and six months after therapy.
Results. SPC was effective in 13 patients out of 17 (76.47%). In responders the quality of life improved by 70%: in these patients, the number of weekly angina attacks reduced from 11.76±7.56 to 2.14±2.54, and the functional class from 3.30±0.75 to 1.5±0.53. No major periprocedural complications were reported. The annual mortality rate was 6.6%. The technique was easy to use.
Conclusions. The results of this study show that SCS is effective, safe, easy to use and well tolerated by patients with refractory angina who fail to respond to traditional revascularisation. This technique substantially improves the quality of life of patients suffering from refractory angina.

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