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PIANISSIMO: Opioid detoxification for patients with Persistent Spinal Pain Syndrome Type II

  • September 7, 2022

Unfortunately, some applied research projects within the biomedical field do not reach the patient due to a lack of industrial interest. The TBM program (applied Biomedical research with a primarily social purpose) aims to contribute to the development or validation of therapies, diagnostic techniques and/or preventive measures, through the funding of advanced application-driven biomedical research.

In 2022, 54 project propositions were submitted for TBM funding. After evaluation of the FWO expert panel, only 14 projects received funding. 4 of these projects are with VUB as a coordinator or as a partner. We would like to introduce one of these projects to grasp the importance of funding this applied research.

Persisting Spinal Pain Syndrome Type II is a condition in which patients suffer from persistent low back pain, despite previous surgical interventions. The impact on the daily life of patients is immense. To provide pain relief, patients are offered a treatment trajectory with Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS). SCS intends to decrease disability and opioid intake but the number of patients that completely withholds from the use of opioids is rather limited.

To tackle the high burden of patients that are taking a lot of opioids, the research project ‘PIANISSIMO’ proposes a new treatment strategy for patients implanted with SCS. The project suggests starting with an opioid tapering program before starting SCS. PIANISSIMO will evaluate if an opioid tapering program before SCS implantation is more effective in reducing disability compared with usual care without opioid tapering.

This project was granted € 838 000 and will be coordinated by Maarten Moens (STIMULUS-VUB/UZB) and VUB researchers Lisa Goudman (STIMULUS-VUB/UZB), Koen Putman (VUB) and Cleo Crunelle (VUB/UZB).