Spinal cord stimulation paresthesia and activity of primary afferents: Case report

Richard B. North, Karen Streelman, Lance Rowland, P. Jay Foreman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A patient with failed back surgery syndrome reported paresthesia in his hands and arms during a spinal cord stimulation (SCS) screening trial with a low thoracic electrode. The patient's severe thoracic stenosis necessitated general anesthesia for simultaneous decompressive laminectomy and SCS implantation for chronic use. Use of general anesthesia gave the authors the opportunity to characterize the patient's unusual distribution of paresthesia. During SCS implantation, they recorded SCS-evoked antidromic potentials at physiologically relevant amplitudes in the legs to guide electrode placement and in the arms as controls. Stimulation of the dorsal columns at T-8 evoked potentials in the legs (common peroneal nerves) and at similar thresholds, consistent with the sensation of paresthesia in the arms, in the right ulnar nerve. The authors' electrophysiological observations support observations by neuroanatomical specialists that primary afferents can descend several (in this case, at least 8) vertebral segments in the spinal cord before synapsing or ascending. This report thus confirms a physiological basis for unusual paresthesia distribution associated with thoracic SCS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-366
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Case study
  • Evoked potential
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Side effect
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Stimulation paresthesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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