Detailed analysis of allergic cutaneous reactions to spinal cord stimulator devices

Zeshan Ahmed Chaudhry, Umer Najib, Zahid H. Bajwa, W. Carl Jacobs, Javed Sheikh, Thomas T. Simopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-623
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain Research
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact dermatitis
  • Delayed inflammatory responses
  • Foreign body giant cell reactions
  • Spinal cord stimulation


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