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Detailed analysis of allergic cutaneous reactions to spinal cord stimulator devices

Authors Chaudhry ZA, Najib U, Bajwa ZH, Jacobs WC, Sheikh J, Simopoulos TT

Received 2 March 2013

Accepted for publication 30 May 2013

Published 1 August 2013 Volume 2013:6 Pages 617—623


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Zeshan Ahmed Chaudhry,1 Umer Najib,2 Zahid H Bajwa,3 W Carl Jacobs,4 Javed Sheikh,5 Thomas T Simopoulos6

1Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; 2Department of Neurology, Robert C Byrd Health Sciences Center of West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA; 3Boston Headache Institute, Waltham, MA, USA; 4Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; 5Department of Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, 6Department of Anesthesia, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brookline, MA, USA

Abstract: The use of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) devices to treat chronic, refractory neuropathic pain continues to expand in application. While device-related complications have been well described, inflammatory reactions to the components of these devices remain underreported. In contrast, hypersensitivity reactions associated with other implanted therapies, such as endovascular and cardiac rhythm devices, have been detailed. The purpose of this case series is to describe the clinical presentation and course of inflammatory reactions as well as the histology of these reactions. All patients required removal of the entire device after developing inflammatory reactions over a time course of 1–3 months. Two patients developed a foreign body reaction in the lead insertion wound as well as at the implantable pulse generator site, with histology positive for giant cells. One patient developed an inflammatory dermatitis on the flank and abdomen that resolved with topical hydrocortisone. “In vivo” testing with a lead extension fragment placed in the buttock resulted in a negative reaction followed by successful reimplantation of an SCS device. Inflammatory reactions to SCS devices can manifest as contact dermatitis, granuloma formation, or foreign body reactions with giant cell formation. Tissue diagnosis is essential, and is helpful to differentiate an inflammatory reaction from infection. The role of skin patch testing for 96 hours may not be suited to detect inflammatory giant cell reactions that manifest several weeks post implantation.

Keywords: spinal cord stimulation, delayed inflammatory responses, foreign body giant cell reactions, contact dermatitis

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