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BACKGROUND: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has shown promise in effectively treating chronic pain. This study aimed to assess the efficacy of DBS in this context. METHODS: We conducted a systematic literature search using PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science, following the PRISMA guidelines. A well-constructed search strategy was utilized. Our literature search identified two groups of subjects: one group underwent DBS specifically for chronic pain treatment (DBS-P), while the second group received DBS for other indications (DBS-O), such as Parkinson's disease or dystonia, with pain perception investigated as a secondary outcome in this population. Meta-analysis was performed using R version 4.2.3 software. Heterogeneity was assessed using the tau^2 and I^2 indices, and Cochran's Q-test was conducted. RESULTS: The analysis included 966 patients in 43 original research studies with chronic pain who underwent DBS (340 for DBS-P and 625 for DBS-O). Subgroup analysis revealed that DBS-P exhibited a significant effect on chronic pain relief, with a standardized mean difference (SMD) of 1.65 and a 95% confidence interval (CI) of [1.31; 2.00]. Significant heterogeneity was observed among the studies, with an I^2 value of 85.8%. However, no significant difference was found between DBS-P and DBS-O subgroups. Subgroup analyses based on study design, age, pain diseases, and brain targets demonstrated varying levels of evidence for the effectiveness of DBS across different subgroups. Additionally, meta-regression analyses showed no significant relationship between age or pain duration and DBS effectiveness for chronic pain. CONCLUSION: These findings significantly contribute to the expanding body of knowledge regarding the utility of DBS in the management of chronic pain. The study underscores the importance of conducting further research to enhance treatment outcomes and elucidate patient-specific factors that are associated with treatment response. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION:, identifier CRD42023428442.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Hum Neurosci

Publication Date





DBS, chronic pain, deep brain stimulation, neuromodulation, neurostimulation, pain