JOURNAL ARTICLE

Response of cervicogenic headaches and occipital neuralgia to radiofrequency ablation of the C2 dorsal root ganglion and/or third occipital nerve

John F Hamer, Traci A Purath
Headache 2014, 54 (3): 500-10
24433241

OBJECTIVE: This article investigates the degree and duration of pain relief from cervicogenic headaches or occipital neuralgia following treatment with radiofrequency ablation of the C2 dorsal root ganglion and/or third occipital nerves. It also addresses the procedure's complication rate and patient's willingness to repeat the procedure if severe symptoms recur.

METHODS: This is a single-center retrospective observational study of 40 patients with refractory cervicogenic headaches and or occipital neuralgia. Patients were all referred by a headache specialty clinic for evaluation for radiofrequency ablation of the C2 dorsal root ganglion and/or third occipital nerves. After treatment, patients were followed for a minimum of 6 months to a year. Patient demographics and the results of radiofrequency ablation were recorded on the same day, after 3-4 days, and at 6 months to 1 year following treatment.

RESULTS: Thirty-five percent of patients reported 100% pain relief and 70% reported 80% or greater pain relief. The mean duration of improvement is 22.35 weeks. Complication rate was 12-13%. 92.5% of patients reported they would undergo the procedure again if severe symptoms returned.

CONCLUSIONS: Radiofrequency ablation of the C2 dorsal root ganglion and/or third occipital nerve can provide many months of greater than 50% pain relief in the vast majority of recipients with an expected length of symptom improvement of 5-6 months.

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