Analgesic Effect and Functional Improvement Caused by Radiofrequency Treatment of Genicular Nerves in Patients With Advanced Osteoarthritis of the Knee Until 1 Year Following Treatment

María M Santana Pineda, Luc E Vanlinthout, Ana Moreno Martín, Jan van Zundert, Fernando Rodriguez Huertas, José P Novalbos Ruiz
Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine 2017, 42 (1): 62-68

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Radiofrequency ablation of genicular nerves has proved to be successful in relieving pain and incapacity caused by osteoarthritis of the knee. However, long-term efficacy of such a treatment remains to be assessed. The current study aimed to reproduce radiofrequency neurotomy of genicular nerves to manage gonarthrosis pain and disability and establish therapeutic response until 1 year after intervention.

METHODS: This single-center, prospective, observational, noncontrolled, longitudinal study included patients with grade 3 to 4 gonarthrosis suffering from intractable knee pain, scoring 5 or more on the visual analog scale (VAS) during >6 months. Therapy was based on ultrasound guided radiofrequency neurotomy of the superior medial, superior lateral and inferior medial genicular nerves. Visual analog scale and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis scores were assessed before therapy and at 1, 6, and 12 months following treatment.

RESULTS: Radiofrequency neurotomy of genicular nerves significantly reduced perceived pain (VAS) and disability (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis) in the majority of participants, without untoward events. The proportion of participants with improvement of 50% or greater in pretreatment VAS scores at 1, 6, and 12 months following intervention were 22/25 (88%), 16/25 (64%) and 8/25 (32%), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Ultrasound-guided radiofrequency neurotomy of genicular nerves alleviates intractable pain and disability in the majority of patients with advanced osteoarthritis of the knee. Such a treatment is safe and minimally invasive and can be performed in an outpatient setting. The beneficial effect of treatment started to decline after 6 months, but even 1 year after the intervention, 32% of patients reported 50% improvement or greater in pretreatment VAS scores.

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