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Bipolar radiofrequency ablation of genicular nerves in chronic knee pain: A novel technique for more complete sensory denervation.

BACKGROUND: Monopolar radiofrequency ablation (MRFA) of the genicular nerves has been considered the main interventional treatment for chronic knee pain. However, the variable locations of these nerves could suggest that traditional MRFA of genicular nerves may be insufficient to cover the area needed to provide complete sensory denervation. For these reasons, some alternatives have been proposed to achieve an increase in the lesion area that offers better outcomes such a bipolar radiofrequency ablation (BRFA).

OBJECTIVE: To describe the efficacy and safety of the bipolar radiofrequency ablation (BRFA) of the genicular nerves in the patients with chronic knee pain.

METHODS: A retrospective study was conducted in the Pain Medicine Department. Institutional review board approval from the Hospital Ethical Committee and informed consent were obtained. We reviewed our database for BRFA of genicular nerves from January 2018 to December 2021 for patients with chronic knee pain. The cannulas were placed using ultrasound guidance (10 cm, 22-gauge and 10 mm active curved tip), and each pair of cannulas were subjected to BRFA for 90 seconds at 80∘C. Data analysis was conducted using T-test for paired variables (Visual analogue scale and EuroQol, an instrument intended to complement other forms of quality-of-life measures).

RESULTS: Twenty-five patients met inclusion criteria after excluding 7 based on the study design. The mean improvement of our patients according to the VAS was -3.98 (95%CI: -4.37 to -3.59) p< 0.0001 and EuroQol +0.416 (95%CI: 0.364 to 0.468) p< 0.0001. The mean duration of improvement was 8 (6-11) months after BRFA. There were no reported serious adverse events related to the procedure, only local pain for 24 to 48 hours in 3 patients.

CONCLUSIONS: We can conclude that BRFA reduces procedural pain and increases the treatment area, providing more complete sensory denervation and improved clinical outcomes.

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