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June 1983

Electrical Treatment of Severe Head and Neck Cancer Pain

Author Affiliations

Department of Otolaryngology Eye and Ear Hospital Pittsburgh

Arch Otolaryngol. 1983;109(6):381. doi:10.1001/archotol.1983.00800200027008

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Severe pain resulting from head and neck cancer remains a substantial problem for those involved in head and neck surgical oncology. Head and neck cancer pain syndromes remain among the most difficult to treat, because they cover dermatomes that are not amenable to standard neurosurgical ablative techniques. The more advanced cases do not respond well to the standard analgesics, and chemotherapy does not have a predictable effect as regards pain.

In this issue, Bauer (p 382) discusses the mechanism of pain relief by electrical stimulation. These mechanisms, however, remain unresolved and are controversial, and the mechanisms of action of transcutaneous electrical neurostimulators are by no means certain. The results are anecdotal, yet seem to encourage Bauer to continue to study this technique.

The unit used in this study is not described either graphically or electronically. This, in a certain way, may be good, since it would seem to minimize the

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