Genicular radiofrequency ablation
- Peripheral nerves innervating the knee include several branches of the genicular nerve.1 These genicular nerves are increasingly being targeted for radiofrequency ablation to alleviate the pain of patients not adequately treated by other treatments.
- A recent double-blind, placebo controlled trial found RFA of the genicular nerves to effectively relieve osteoarthritis knee pain at 12 weeks after the procedure.1
Knee pain is a frequent health problem affecting 20% of adults over the age of 50.2 The most common cause of knee pain among middle-aged and older adults is osteoarthritis.3 Knee pain can limit mobility and function, which may reduce patients quality of life.45
While limited in the past, treatment options for knee pain are on the rise.
Treatments for knee pain traditionally included physical therapy and other conservative methods as well as medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).67 Additionally, there are interventional treatments for knee pain, such as joint injections with steroids or Orthovisc®.89 Many patients undergo surgical treatments for knee pain. Approximately 620,000 total knee replacements are done each year in the U.S., with 7% of males and 9.5% of females are at risk to receive a knee replacement in their lifetime.10 Though each of the treatments previously discussed has demonstrated efficacy in some patients, many patients chronic knee pain remains unresolved. For example, an estimated 10% to 34% of patients experience long-term pain after total knee replacement.11
Before your procedure
A doctor will confirm the patient's diagnosis. If the patient is a good candidate, the doctor will ask for the following information:
- Current medications, including herbal supplements and their dosages
- Drug, iodine or latex allergies
- Current health conditions
During your procedure
Radiofrequency ablation is performed while the patient is awake but sedated. To begin, the area to be treated is numbed with a local anesthetic. Using x-ray guidance, the doctor will insert a needle and electrode into the treatment location. After confirming correct placement, a high-frequency electrical current is passed through the electrode, heating up and lesioning the sensory nerve. Once the procedure is complete, the needle and electrode are removed.
After your procedure
Typically patients go home within one to three hours. The patient may experience some initial discomfort immediately after the procedure but most patients are able to return to work and their normal daily activities within 24 to 36 hours. After a few days, the patient should notice a marked decrease in pain and continued improvement over the next several weeks. The patient can expect long-lasting pain relief. Because nerves do repair themselves, the pain may return, but the procedure can be done again.