Three-Year Durability of Restorative Neurostimulation Effectiveness in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain and Multifidus Muscle Dysfunction.

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BACKGROUND: Restorative neurostimulation is a rehabilitative treatment for patients with refractory chronic low back pain (CLBP) associated with dysfunction of the lumbar multifidus muscle resulting in impaired neuromuscular control. The ReActiv8-B randomized, sham-controlled trial provided evidence of the effectiveness and safety of an implanted, restorative neurostimulator. The two-year analysis previously published in this journal demonstrated accrual of clinical benefits and long-term durability.

OBJECTIVE: Evaluation of three-year effectiveness and safety in patients with refractory, disabling CLBP secondary to multifidus muscle dysfunction and no indications for spine surgery.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Prospective, observational follow-up of the 204 implanted trial participants. Low back pain visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EuroQol quality of life survey, and opioid intake were assessed at baseline, six months, and one, two, and three years after activation. The mixed-effects model repeated measures approach was used to provide implicit imputations of missing data for continuous outcomes and multiple imputation for proportion estimates.

RESULTS: Data were collected from 133 participants, and 16 patients missed their three-year follow-up because of coronavirus disease restrictions but remain available for future follow-up. A total of 62% of participants had a ≥ 70% VAS reduction, and 67% reported CLBP resolution (VAS ≤ 2.5cm); 63% had a reduction in ODI of ≥ 20 points; 83% had improvements of ≥ 50% in VAS and/or ≥ 20 points in ODI, and 56% had these substantial improvements in both VAS and ODI. A total of 71% (36/51) participants on opioids at baseline had voluntarily discontinued (49%) or reduced (22%) opioid intake. The attenuation of effectiveness in the imputed (N = 204) analyses was relatively small and did not affect the statistical significance and clinical relevance of these results. The safety profile remains favorable, and no lead migrations have been observed to date.

CONCLUSION: At three years, 83% of participants experienced clinically substantial improvements in pain, disability, or both. The results confirm the long-term effectiveness, durability, and safety of restorative neurostimulation in patients with disabling CLBP associated with multifidus muscle dysfunction.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: The registration number for the study is NCT02577354.





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