Alleviation of Pancoast's tumor pain by ultrasound-guided percutaneous ablation of cervical nerve roots

Michael Gofeld, Anuj Bhatia
Pain Practice: the Official Journal of World Institute of Pain 2008, 8 (4): 314-9
The case report describes use of real-time ultrasound guidance to facilitate percutaneous ablation of cervical nerve roots in a patient with Pancoast's syndrome. Distortion of anatomy by the tumor made it difficult to perform the procedure safely using fluoroscopy. A 64-year-old right-handed male patient with carcinoma of the left lung presented with severe pain in the left shoulder and the arm. A clinical diagnosis of the left brachial plexopathy secondary to tumor involvement of C5 to C8 nerve roots was made. Radiological appearance of the cervical spine revealed distorted anatomy because of severe degeneration of the cervical spine and guarding torticollis. Diagnostic prognostic block of the C4 to C7 exiting nerve roots was done under ultrasound guidance and resulted in more than 75% reduction in pain intensity for 4 hours. Ultrasound-guided percutaneous cervical rhizotomy was performed later. At 3-month follow-up, the patient still had complete pain relief as well as improvement in quality of sleep. Ultrasound-guided cervical nerve roots ablation is a feasible approach for patients with intractable neuropathic pain secondary to Pancoast's tumor. It can be a useful alternative to fluoroscopy in patients in whom a fluoroscopy-guided approach is deemed difficult and hazardous.

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