JOURNAL ARTICLE

Short-term effects of pulsed radiofrequency on chronic refractory cervical radicular pain

Gyu-Sik Choi, Sang-Ho Ahn, Yun-Woo Cho, Dong-Kyu Lee
Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine 2011, 35 (6): 826-32
22506211

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the short-term effectiveness of pulsed radiofrequency on the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) in patients with chronic refractory cervical radicular pain.

METHOD: Fifteen patients (13 males, 2 females; mean age, 55.9 years) with chronic radicular pain due to cervical disc herniation or foraminal stenosis refractory to active rehabilitative management, including transforaminal cervical epidural steroid injection and exercise, were selected. All patients received pulsed radiofrequency on the symptomatic cervical dorsal root ganglion and were carefully evaluated for neurologic deficits and side effects. The clinical outcomes were measured using a visual analogue scale (VAS) and a neck disability index (NDI) before treatment, one and three months after treatment. Successful pain relief was defined as a 50% or greater reduction in the VAS score as compared with the pre-treatment score. After three months, we categorized the patients' satisfaction.

RESULTS: The average VAS for radicular pain was reduced significantly from 5.3 at pretreatment to 2.5 at 3 months post-treatment (p<0.05). Eleven of 15 patients (77.3%) after cervical pulsed RF stimulation reported pain relief of 50% or more at the 3 month follow-up. The average NDI was significantly reduced from 44.0% at pretreatment to 35.8% 3 months post-treatment (p<0.05). At 3 months post-treatment, eleven of fifteen patients (73.3%) were satisfied with their status. No adverse effects were observed.

CONCLUSION: The results demonstrate that the application of pulsed radiofrequency on DRG might be an effective short-term intervention for chronic refractory cervical radicular pain. Further studies, including a randomized controlled trial with long-term follow-up, are now needed.

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