Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by abdominal pain and changed bowel habits. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been used for treatment of chronic pain syndromes. Animal studies have shown SCS to reduce the reaction to colonic balloon distension, known to be increased in IBS patients. To elucidate the potential for SCS as treatment for IBS, a pilot study was performed. Ten IBS patients (age 26-56 years) were recruited. A SCS system with a 4-polar electrode was implanted at the T5-T8 level. After a two-week run-in, a randomized, crossover design SCS during 6 weeks was compared to no stimulation, with an ensuing stimulation period for 12 weeks; total study period 28 weeks. Patients recorded pain level, pain attacks, diarrheas and global quality of life in a diary. At end of the study patients could choose to retain their SCS system or have it removed. Nine patients completed the whole trial. During stimulation periods the median pain scores were significantly reduced from VAS 7 (4-8) to 3 (2.5-7) and to 4 (2-6) during early and late stimulation periods, respectively (p<0.03-0.04). Pain attacks were numerically reduced. A few patients reported reduced number of diarrheas. After study termination, six patients chose to retain their SCS system. To conclude, SCS is a minimally invasive treatment option for pain in IBS. With SCS the pain level was reduced though with merely a trend for number of attacks and diarrheas. The efficacy of SCS in IBS pain indicates a possible usefulness in other painful bowel disorders.
- Spinal cord stimulation
- irritable bowel syndrome
- abdominal pain
- Copyright © 2015, American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology