Objective: The objective of this review was to evaluate the efficacy of pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) treatment of pain associated with different spinal conditions. The mechanisms of action and biological effects are shortly discussed to provide the scientific basis for this radiofrequency modality. Methods: We systematically searched for clinical studies on spinal clinical conditions using PRF. We searched the MEDLINE (PubMed) database. We classified the information in one table focusing on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and other types of studies. Date of last electronic search was October 2016. Results: We found four RCTs that evaluated the efficacy of PRF on cervical radicular pain and five observational studies. Two trials and three observational studies were conducted in patients with facet pain. For disc-related pathology, we found one RCT with PRF applied intradiscally and three RCTs for dorsal root ganglia PRF modulation lumbosacral radicular pain. For sacroiliac joint pain, spondylolisthesis, malignancies and other minor spinal pathology, limited studies were conducted. Conclusion: From the available evidence, the use of PRF to the dorsal root ganglion in cervical radicular pain is compelling. With regard to its lumbosacral counterpart, the use of PRF cannot be similarly advocated in view of the absence of standardization of PRF parameters, enrolment criteria and different methods in reporting results; but, the evidence is interesting. The use of PRF in lumbar facet pain was found to be less effective than conventional RF techniques. For the other different spinal conditions, we need further studies to assess the effectiveness of PRF. Advances in knowledge: The use of PRF in lumbar facet pain was found to be less effective than conventional RF techniques. For the other different spinal conditions, we need further studies to assess the effectiveness of PRF.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging