Brain and spinal stimulation therapies for phantom limb pain: a systematic review

Corbett M, South E, Harden M, Eldabe S, Pereira E, Sedki I, Hall N, Woolacott N
Record ID 32018000282
Authors' objectives: To determine which types of brain and spinal stimulation therapy appear to be the best for treating chronic PLP.
Authors' results and conclusions: Results: Seven randomised controlled trials (RCTs), 30 non-comparative group studies, 18 case reports and 21 epidemiology studies were included. Results from a good-quality RCT suggested short-term benefits of rTMS in reducing PLP, but not in reducing anxiety or depression. Small randomised trials of tDCS suggested the possibility of modest, short-term reductions in PLP. No RCTs of invasive therapies were identified. Results from small, non-comparative group studies suggested that, although many patients benefited from short-term pain reduction, far fewer maintained their benefits. Most studies had important methodological or reporting limitations and few studies reported quality-of-life data. The evidence on prognostic factors for the development of chronic PLP from the longitudinal studies also had important limitations. The results from these studies suggested that pre-amputation pain and early PLP intensity are good predictors of chronic PLP. Results from the cross-sectional studies suggested that the proportion of patients with severe chronic PLP is between around 30% and 40% of the chronic PLP population, and that around one-quarter of chronic PLP patients find their PLP to be either moderately or severely limiting or bothersome. There were 37 responses to the questionnaire distributed to clinicians. SCS and DRG stimulation are frequently used in the NHS but the prevalence of use of DBS and MCS was low. Most responders considered SCS and DRG stimulation to be at least sometimes effective. Neurosurgeons had mixed views on DBS, but most considered MCS to rarely be effective. Most clinicians thought that a randomised trial design could be successfully used to study neurostimulation therapies. Conclusions: Currently available studies of the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of neurostimulation treatments do not provide robust, reliable results. Therefore, it is uncertain which treatments are best for chronic PLP.
Authors' methods: Two reviewers screened titles and abstracts and full texts. Data extraction and quality assessments were undertaken by one reviewer and checked by another. A questionnaire was distributed to clinicians via established e-mail lists of two relevant clinical societies. All results were presented narratively with accompanying tables.
Authors' identified further reserach: Randomised crossover trials, randomised N-of-1 trials and prospective registry trials are viable study designs for future research.
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 2018
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Full HTA
Country: England, United Kingdom
MeSH Terms
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Deep Brain Stimulation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy
  • Pain Management
  • Phantom Limb
  • Quality of Life
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation
Organisation Name: NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme
Contact Address: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK
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Copyright: 2009 Queen's Printer and Controller of HMSO
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.