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Abbott: New Study Shows Spinal Cord Stimulation Can Reduce, Stabilize Opioid Use Among Chronic Pain Patients

Researchers found that opioid use declined or stabilized in 70 percent of patients who received a spinal cord stimulation system.

New research has found spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy can be key to reducing or stabilizing the use of opioids in patients battling chronic pain.


In a new study, researchers examined opioid usage data from more than 5,400 patients both prior to and after receiving an SCS system implant. In an SCS system, an implanted device similar to a pacemaker delivers low levels of electrical energy to nerve fibers, interrupting pain signals as they travel to the brain to reduce the sensation of pain. Researchers have found that average daily opioid use declined or stabilized for patients receiving a successful SCS system compared to patient use of opioids prior to an implant.

In addition, while opioid usage was not different for the two groups at time of implant, patients who underwent a successful SCS implant had significantly lower opioid use one year after their implant. Patients who had their SCS system removed saw their opioid use increase again over time.

The study, which the researchers believe makes a compelling case for considering SCS therapy earlier in the chronic pain care continuum, were presented at the 2017 North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) annual meeting by Ashwini Sharan, M.D., director of Functional and Epilepsy Surgery at Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Jefferson and president of NANS.  The study was sponsored by Abbott (No. 14 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list), a global leader in the development and manufacture of SCS systems and therapy options, such as the company's proprietary BurstDR™ stimulation.

Currently, more than 2.1 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance abuse related to opioid pain relievers, while worldwide an estimated 15.5 million people are now classified as opioid dependent. Chronic pain is often a driver of opioid use as patients seek relief and improvements to their quality of life. Fortunately for patients, SCS therapy has been clinically proven to offer meaningful relief to patients suffering from chronic pain.

"Given the epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse, these findings are important and confirm that spinal cord stimulation therapy can offer strong benefits for patients struggling with chronic pain," said Sharan. "Based on these results, we concluded it may be possible to improve outcomes by offering our patients spinal cord stimulation earlier, before opioid dependence and addiction can occur."

About the Study:

For their analysis, the research team assessed private and Medicare insurance claims data from 5,476 patients who received an SCS system to treat chronic pain associated with a host of conditions (excluding pain related to cancer). The data were collected between January 2010 and December 2014.

The data confirmed that many patients are often prescribed increasing dosages of opioids prior to receiving an SCS system. The researchers also found:

  • SCS therapy is effective for patients at any level of opioid usage prior to implantation.
  • Opioid use declined or stabilized in 70 percent of patients who received an SCS system.
  • Among patients who had their SCS system explanted, opioid use was higher at one year compared to those who continued with SCS therapy.

The researchers further suggested patient outcomes could be improved if SCS were implanted earlier in recognition of the clinical practice to provide increasing dosages of opioids over time. These conclusions help build upon prior research, such as results of a large multi-center randomized controlled trial in patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) that showed trends in opioid reduction or cessation among SCS patients. In addition, new technologies released in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016 hold promise to improve outcomes further and may reduce common complications resulting in explant such as the undesired changes in paresthesia, issues with charging, pain at the implantable pulse generator (IPG) site, and loss of pain relief.

"As our society has been seeking ways to stem opioid abuse and addition, our company offers treatment options that can reduce their exposure to opioid medication," said Allen Burton, M.D., medical director of neuromodulation at Abbott. "Data like these are critical to helping us demonstrate that spinal cord stimulation can reduce exposure to opioids while giving patients comprehensive pain relief."

Abbott: Top Internship for Healthcare and Tech

Interns have spoken: Abbott is the top college internship program for healthcare and tech & engineering.

Originally Published by Abbott.

Abbott recognizes the need to develop its future leaders early, and has been named the top healthcare and tech & engineering internship program by Vault.

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New Study Shows Abbott's Novel Diagnostic Test Could Help Rule Out Heart Attacks Earlier

Preliminary research indicates that a diagnostic test currently in development, that is done at the patient's side in minutes, has similar accuracy to a high-sensitive troponin test for early rule out of a heart attack .

Originally Published by Abbott.

For someone experiencing cardiac symptoms in the emergency room, every minute matters as physicians determine whether someone is having a heart attack. New data, published online in JAMA Cardiology, found a new blood test under development that is done right at the patient's side in as little as 15 minutes could identify nearly three-fifths (56.7 percent) of people at low-risk of experiencing a heart attack, similar to the results of a High Sensitive Troponin-I blood test done in the laboratory setting.

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Abbott: Partnering for a Healthier Future

Abbott supports the First Ladies of Africa in the fight to end AIDS in children and keep mothers healthy.

Originally Published by Abbott.

In countries around the world, Abbott is working across its businesses and in partnerships with others to create healthier futures for families. One example: since 2014, Abbott's diagnostics business has supported the work of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA – pictured above) to fight the AIDS epidemic in Africa, particularly among pregnant women and children – who are among the most vulnerable populations impacted by the disease.

At an OAFLA meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, Abbott and several other organizations are being recognized by OAFLA for longstanding partnership and support, including public-private partnerships that bring together technical, financial and other resources to focus on a global health challenge such as HIV/AIDS.

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Abbott: DRG Stimulator, A Life Changing Technology for Chronic Pain.

The new technological DRG therapy may be the key to easing daily tasks for those with chronic pain.

Originally Published by Abbott.

Living with chronic pain affects not just your body but also your mind. It can make getting around and getting along equally difficult.

But with innovation in health technology comes hope. Abbott has developed a new device found to be more effective than traditional therapy at relieving chronic pain.

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Abbott: Expediting Blood Testing With i-Stat

The portable, handheld i-STAT Alinity delivers quick blood test results anywhere you are.

Originally Published by Abbott.

Every day, countless blood samples are tested all around the world for one purpose: to help diagnose and treat medical conditions. From the couple eagerly awaiting the results of a pregnancy blood test to a worried cancer patient hoping for more answers, diagnostic blood tests give vital insight into what's happening underneath the skin.

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Abbott: Freestyle Libre 14 Day, Now FDA Approved

Abbott's flash glucose monitor now FDA-approved for two weeks of use in U.S. between sensor changes.

Originally Published by Abbott.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved FreeStyle Libre 14 day— Abbott's revolutionary continuous glucose monitoring system. In the U.S., you can wear the sensor up to 14 days with high accuracy.

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At Abbott, You Look Like An Engineer

Decades before #ILookLikeAnEngineer, Abbott paved the way for a non-profit dedicated to diversity in STEM.

Originally Published by Abbott.

#ILookLikeAnEngineer.

Remember this? A few years ago, a young software engineer was featured in a recruiting advertisement, only to be accused of not being an actual engineer. Frustrated with the assertion, Isis Wenger started a movement to break the stereotype of what an engineer should look like.

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Abbott Receives FDA Approval for Next-Generation MitraClip Device to Treat People with Leaky Heart Valves

MitraClip is the gold-standard minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery for people needing mitral valve repair.

Originally Published by Abbott.

Abbott announced it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a next-generation version of its leading MitraClip® heart valve repair device used to repair a leaky mitral valve without open-heart surgery. The transcatheter clip-based therapy, now on a third generation of product innovations, has been used to treat more than 65,000 patients worldwide over the last ten years.

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