Pulsed radiofrequency adjacent to the cervical dorsal root ganglion in chronic cervical radicular pain: a double blind sham controlled randomized clinical trial

Jan Van Zundert, Jacob Patijn, Alfons Kessels, Inge Lamé, Hans van Suijlekom, Maarten van Kleef
Pain 2007, 127 (1-2): 173-82
Cervical radicular pain affects approximately 1 on 1000 adults per year. Although many treatment modalities are described in the literature, the available evidence for efficacy is not sufficient to allow definitive conclusions on the optimal therapy to be made. The effect of pulsed radiofrequency treatment for this type of patients was evaluated in a prospective audit that showed satisfactory pain relief for a mean period of 9.2 months, justifying a randomized sham controlled trial. Twenty-three patients, out of 256 screened, met the inclusion criteria and were randomly assigned in a double blind fashion to receive either pulsed radiofrequency or sham intervention. The evaluation was done by an independent observer. At 3 months the pulsed radiofrequency group showed a significantly better outcome with regard to the global perceived effect (>50% improvement) and visual analogue scale (20 point pain reduction). The quality of life scales also showed a positive trend in favor of the pulsed radiofrequency group, but significance was only reached in the SF-36 domain vitality at 3 months. The need for pain medication was significantly reduced in the pulsed radiofrequency group after six months. No complications were observed during the study period. These study results are in agreement with the findings of our previous clinical audit that pulsed radiofrequency treatment of the cervical dorsal root ganglion may provide pain relief for a limited number of carefully selected patients with chronic cervical radicular pain as assessed by clinical and neurological examination.

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