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      Incidence of neuropathic pain after radiofrequency denervation of the third occipital nerve

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          The purpose of this study was to identify the incidence of neuropathic pain occurring after radiofrequency neurotomy of the third occipital nerve (TON). This study was conducted at a teaching hospital from January 1, 2008, to March 31, 2010. With institutional review board approval, Current Procedural Terminology codes were used to identify patients who received radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the nerves supplying the C2-3 facet joint and the TON. The C3 dorsal ramus provides innervation to the C2-3 facet joint and the suboccipital cutaneous region, and procedures that included ablation to this region were reviewed for complications. Postprocedural data were collected by reviewing follow-up appointment notes and telephone calls. Included were patients who had new neuropathic pain in the distribution of the TON after RFA. They described what they were feeling as burning, tingling, or numbness. All patients who presented with complaints had normal neurologic findings and no secondary cause for their symptoms. The included patient medical records were then reviewed for severity and duration of symptoms and the need for treatment with pain medication. Sixty-four patients underwent C2-3 RFA or TON RFA, and 12 patients were identified as experiencing ablation-induced third occipital neuralgia, an incidence rate of 19%. This finding suggests that patients undergoing RFA of the nerves supplying the C2-3 joint or TON are at risk for postprocedural third occipital neuralgia. This possibility may affect providing informed consent as well as anticipating and managing postprocedural pain.

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          Percutaneous radio-frequency neurotomy for chronic cervical zygapophyseal-joint pain.

          Chronic pain in the cervical zygapohyseal joints is a common problem after whiplash injury, but treatment is difficult. Percutaneous radiofrequency neurotomy can relieve the pain by denaturing the nerves innervating the painful joint, but the efficacy of this treatment has not been established. In a randomized, double-blind trial, we compared percutaneous radio-frequency neurotomy in which multiple lesions were made and the temperature of the electrode making the lesions was raised to 80 degrees C with a control treatment using an identical procedure except that the radio-frequency current was not turned on. We studied 24 patients (9 men and 15 women; mean age, 43 years) who had pain in one or more cervical zygapophyseal joints after an automobile accident (median duration of pain, 34 months). The source of their pain had been identified with the use of double-blind, placebo-controlled local anesthesia. Twelve patients received each treatment. The patients were followed by telephone interviews and clinic visits until they reported that their pain had returned to 50 percent of the preoperative level. The median time that elapsed before the pain returned to at least 50 percent of the preoperative level was 263 days in the active-treatment group and 8 days in the control group (P=0.04). At 27 weeks, seven patients in the active-treatment group and one patient in the control group were free of pain. Five patients in the active-treatment group had numbness in the territory of the treated nerves, but none considered it troubling. In patients with chronic cervical zygapophyseal-joint pain confirmed with double-blind, placebo-controlled local anesthesia, percutaneous radio-frequency neurotomy with multiple lesions of target nerves can provide lasting relief.
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            Long-term follow-up of patients treated with cervical radiofrequency neurotomy for chronic neck pain.

            To determine the long-term efficacy of percutaneous radiofrequency medial branch neurotomy in the treatment of chronic neck pain. Between 1991 and 1996, radiofrequency neurotomy was performed in 28 patients diagnosed as having cervical zygapophysial joint pain on the basis of controlled diagnostic blocks. The procedure was repeated in patients whose pain recurred. Outcome measures were the proportion of patients who responded to the initial procedure and the duration of relief subsequently obtained. Outcome was correlated with the operator performing the procedure, the type of electrode used, litigation status, and the type of diagnostic blocks used to establish the diagnosis. Complete relief of pain was obtained in 71% of patients after an initial procedure. No patient who failed to respond to a first procedure responded to a repeat procedure, but if pain returned after a successful initial procedure, relief could be reinstated by a repeat procedure. The median duration of relief after a first procedure was 219 days when failures are included but 422 days when only successful cases are considered. The median duration of relief after repeat procedures was at least 219 days; several patients had ongoing relief at the time of follow-up. Outcome did not differ according to the operator, the type of electrode used, litigation status, or the type of diagnostic block used. Radiofrequency neurotomy provides clinically significant and satisfying periods of freedom from pain, and its effects can be reinstated if pain recurs.
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              Systematic review of diagnostic utility and therapeutic effectiveness of cervical facet joint interventions.

              Chronic, recurrent neck pain is common and is associated with high pain intensity and disability, which is seen in 14% of the adult general population. Controlled studies have supported the existence of cervical facet or zygapophysial joint pain in 36% to 67% of these patients. However, these studies also have shown false-positive results in 27% to 63% of the patients with a single diagnostic block. There is also a paucity of literature investigating therapeutic interventions of cervical facet joint pain. A systematic review of cervical facet joint interventions. To evaluate the accuracy of diagnostic facet joint nerve blocks and the effectiveness of cervical facet joint interventions. Medical databases and journals were searched to locate all relevant literature from 1966 through December 2008 in the English language. A review of the literature of the utility of facet joint interventions in diagnosing and managing facet joint pain was performed according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) criteria for diagnostic studies and observational studies and the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group criteria as utilized for interventional techniques for randomized trials. The level of evidence was defined as Level I, II, or III based on the quality of evidence developed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). For diagnostic interventions, studies must have been performed utilizing controlled local anesthetic blocks which achieve at minimum 80% relief of pain and the ability to perform previously painful movements. For therapeutic interventions, the primary outcome measure was pain relief (short-term relief up to 6 months and long-term relief greater than 6 months) with secondary outcome measures of improvement in functional status, psychological status, return to work, and reduction in opioid intake. Based on the utilization of controlled comparative local anesthetic blocks, the evidence for the diagnosis of cervical facet joint pain is Level I or II-1. The indicated evidence for therapeutic cervical medial branch blocks is Level II-1. The indicated evidence for radiofrequency neurotomy in the cervical spine is Level II-1 or II-2, whereas the evidence is lacking for intraarticular injections. A systematic review of cervical facet joint interventions is hindered by the paucity of published literature and lack of literature for intraarticular cervical facet joint injections. The evidence for diagnosis of cervical facet joint pain with controlled comparative local anesthetic blocks is Level I or II-1. The indicated evidence for therapeutic facet joint interventions is Level II-1 for medial branch blocks, and Level II-1 or II-2 for radiofrequency neurotomy.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                10 April 2014
                : 7
                : 195-198
                Division of Pain Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Halena M Gazelka, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Ave ST SW Rochester, MN 55905, USA, Email gazelka.halena@ 123456mayo.edu
                © 2014 Gazelka et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                cervical spine, neuralgia, neurotomy, ablation


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