Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been suggested as a treatment option for patients with painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN). We conducted a systematic review and undertook a meta-analysis on individual patient data from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to assess the effectiveness of SCS for the management of PDN. Electronic databases were searched from inception to May 2020 for RCTs of SCS for PDN. Searches identified 2 eligible RCTs (total of 93 patients with PDN) and 2 long-term follow-up studies of one of the RCTs. Individual patient data were obtained from the authors of one of these RCTs. Meta-analysis showed significant and clinically meaningful reductions in pain intensity for SCS compared with best medical therapy alone, pooled mean difference (MD) -3.13 (95% confidence interval [CI]: -4.19 to -2.08) on a 10-point scale at the 6-month follow-up. More patients receiving SCS achieved at least a 50% reduction in pain intensity compared with best medical therapy, pooled risk ratio 0.08 (95% CI: 0.02-0.38). Increases were observed for health-related quality of life assessed as EQ-5D utility score (pooled MD 0.16, 95% CI: 0.02-0.30) and visual analogue scale (pooled MD 11.21, 95% CI: 2.26-20.16). Our findings demonstrate that SCS is an effective therapeutic adjunct to best medical therapy in reducing pain intensity and improving health-related quality of life in patients with PDN. Large well-reported RCTs with long-term follow-up are required to confirm these results.
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