Treatment of osteoid osteoma of the elbow by radiofrequency thermal ablation

Ugo Albisinni, Alberto Bazzocchi, Graziano Bettelli, Giancarlo Facchini, Emanuela Castiello, Michele Cavaciocchi, Giuseppe Battista, Roberto Rotini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This article presents the experience at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute in the treatment of intracapsular osteoid osteoma (OO) of the elbow by computed tomography-guided percutaneous radiofrequency thermal ablation (RFA). Materials and methods: Our team performed more than 800 RFA procedures to treat OO up to 2010. In 27 cases, the lesion site was the articular area of the elbow (humerus in 13 cases, ulna in 13, and radius in 1). These patients were reviewed and assessed for eradication rate, incidence of complications, and functional results measured by the Mayo Elbow Performance Score. The outcome was evaluated after a mean follow-up period of 67.4 ± 35.3 months (range, 24-128 months). Results: The mean duration of symptoms at the time of diagnosis was 31.0 ± 19.8 months (range, 5-72 months). All patients complained about pain, and in 24 of 27 cases (88.8%), the joint function was significantly impaired by the presence of OO (pretreatment score, 54.8). After RFA, the Mayo Elbow Performance Score improved by a mean of 37.7 ± 14.8 points, with 25 of 27 patients (92.5%) scoring 90 to 100 points at final follow-up. OO recurred in only 1 patient (3.7%), 5 months after the procedure. However, this was successfully retreated by RFA. No adverse effects were observed, and all patients were free of disease at the final follow-up. Discussion: The RFA procedure can be technically challenging in difficult sites such as the elbow joint. The low invasiveness of RFA compared with traditional surgery allows excellent functional recovery. RFA of elbow OO is effective and safe, and it should be considered the first-choice treatment for this disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Benign bone lesion
  • Elbow
  • Elbow pain
  • Osteoid osteoma
  • RFA
  • Treatment efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Surgery


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