The Current Status of Dorsal Column Stimulation for Relief of Pain

  • C. Norman Shealy


The concept of stimulation of the dorsal column of the spinal cord for relief of intractable pain was introduced in 1966. At that time, laboratory data on cats and monkeys suggested that this was potentially a feasible method for relieving pain. In the spring of 1967, the first patient was done. Since that time and to the time of this abstract, we have done fifteen patients in which a bipolar stimulating electrode is attached just inside the dura at some level of the spine well above the pain input. We are now able to report the effects of stimulation in patients up to three years and by the time of this conference, we will have reports up to three and one-half years with a minimum follow up on the fifteen patients of six months. At the present time, it would appear that dorsal columnstimulation is effective in relief of organic pain about 75 percent of the time. The problems of the procedure are primarily those of selecting the proper patient and avoiding surgery on those patients who are emotionally crippled by their pain or in whom the pain is a result of severe psychiatric disturbance.


Spinal Cord Medical School Electric Current Laboratory Data Pain Threshold 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Norman Shealy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Gundersen ClinicUSA
  2. 2.University of MinnesotaUSA
  3. 3.University of Wisconsin Medical SchoolUSA

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