Objectives: The problem of treating patients in a vegetative state remains grossly unresolved, and spinal cord stimulation (SCS) had seemed promising in some studies, suggesting, to us, further study. Materials and Methods: A prospective uncontrolled and nonrandomized observational study for 20 consecutive years (1986-2005) was performed on the effect of SCS in 214 patients in persistent vegetative state (PVS) that resulted from global anoxia and/or, stroke and/or head injury. After confirming the condition of PVS, a spinal cord stimulator, at the C2-C4 level, was implanted, stimulating according to a protocol of 15-min on/15-min off during daytime only. The results were evaluated using an efficacy scale designed by us for our study, detecting signs of awareness of self and surrounding. Results: Excellent and positive results were obtained in 109 of 201 patients (54%), but better in those patients below the age of 35, those of PVS of traumatic origin and those patients with regional cerebral blood flow over 20 mL/100 g/min. Conclusions: These findings, though inconclusive of actual benefit of SCS for PVS, indicate to us that further evidence-based, randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm efficacy of the treatment and define those who are going to benefit from this treatment method.
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