Medial branch neurotomy in low back pain. Neuroradiology

Department of Diagnostic and Molecular Imaging, Interventional Radiology and Radiotherapy University "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy.
Neuroradiology (Impact Factor: 2.49). 10/2011; 54(7):737-44. DOI: 10.1007/s00234-011-0968-6
Source: PubMed


This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of pulsed radiofrequency medial branch dorsal ramus neurotomy in patients with facet joint syndrome.
From January 2008 to April 2010, 92 patients with facet joint syndrome diagnosed by strict inclusion criteria and controlled diagnostic blocks undergone medial branch neurotomy. We did not exclude patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). Electrodes (20G) with 5-mm active tip were placed under fluoroscopy guide parallel to medial branch. Patients were followed up by physical examination and by Visual Analog Scale and Oswestry Disability Index at 1, 6, and 12 months.
In all cases, pain improvement was statistically significant and so quality of life. Three non-FBSS patients had to undergo a second neurotomy because of non-satisfactory pain decrease. Complications were reported in no case.
Medial branch radiofrequency neurotomy has confirmed its well-established effectiveness in pain and quality of life improvement as long as strict inclusion criteria be fulfilled and nerve ablation be accomplished by parallel electrode positioning. This statement can be extended also to FBSS patients.

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    • "After sensor stimulation with 50 Hz and motor stimulation with 2 Hz, 0.5 cc of local anesthetic (lidocaine 2%) was injected to prevent injury to the nerve roots. The ablation was done with a core temperature of 80°C around the electrode tip.11,14–15 The duration of the procedure was 90 seconds. "
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic low back pain is a disabling phenomenon that can cause a severe reduction in quality of life, especially in elderly patients. Surgical treatment is sometimes a big challenge for these elderly patients. Radiofrequency (RF) ablation is an increasingly popular method for treating low back pain caused by facet syndrome. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether RF neurotomy is effective in terms of pain reduction and functional outcome in elderly patients. Fifty-eight patients aged 80 years and older who had chronic mechanical low back pain were examined after they underwent RF heat lesion of the medial branch. Follow-up occurred 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after treatment. Pain was measured on the visual analog scale and functional outcome was measured using the Oswestry Disability Index. After 1 month, 43 patients (74%) were satisfied with the results. After 3 months, 38 patients (66%) had clinically significant pain relief. After 6 months, 33 patients (57%) had pain relief, and at the 1-year follow-up, 30 patients (52%) showed good results while 28 patients (48%) showed no effect. The Oswestry Disability Index score was substantially improved even after 1 year. Minor complications occurred in eleven patients (19%), who had transient discomfort and burning pain. RF is a safe and partially effective procedure for treating elderly patients with mechanical back pain due to facet syndrome.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Clinical Interventions in Aging

  • No preview · Article · Dec 2011 · Neuroradiology
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    ABSTRACT: Therapeutic lumbar facet joint interventions are implemented to provide long-term pain relief after the facet joint has been identified as the basis for low back pain. The therapeutic lumbar facet joint interventions generally used for the treatment of low back pain of facet joint origin are intraarticular facet joint injections, lumbar facet joint nerve blocks, and radiofrequency neurotomy. To evaluate and update the effect of therapeutic lumbar facet joint interventions in managing chronic low back pain. A systematic review of therapeutic lumbar facet joint interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain. The available literature on lumbar facet joint interventions in managing chronic low back pain was reviewed. The quality assessment and clinical relevance criteria utilized were the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group criteria as utilized for interventional techniques for randomized trials and the criteria developed by the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale criteria for observational studies. The level of evidence was classified as good, fair, and limited or poor based on the quality of evidence developed by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Data sources included relevant literature identified through searches of PubMed and EMBASE from 1966 through June 2012, and manual searches of the bibliographies of known primary and review articles. The primary outcome measure was pain relief with short-term relief defined as up to 6 months and long-term relief as 12 months. Secondary outcome measures were improvement in functional status, psychological status, return to work, and reduction in opioid intake. For this systematic review, 122 studies were identified. Of these, 11 randomized trials and 14 observational studies met inclusion criteria for methodological quality assessment. The evidence for radiofrequency neurotomy is good and fair to good for lumbar facet joint nerve blocks for short- and long-term improvement; whereas the evidence for intraarticular injections and pulsed radiofrequency neurotomy is limited. The limitations of this systematic review include the continued paucity of evidence, specifically for intraarticular injection therapy. In summary, there is good evidence for the use of conventional radiofrequency neurotomy, and fair to good evidence for lumbar facet joint nerve blocks for the treatment of chronic lumbar facet joint pain resulting in short-term and long-term pain relief and functional improvement. There is limited evidence for intraarticular facet joint injections and pulsed radiofrequency thermoneurolysis.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Pain physician
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