Current Issue - May/June 2024 - Vol 27 Issue 4


  1. 2024;27;E419-E429Effectiveness of Radiofrequency Ablation of the Genicular Nerves of the Knee for the Management of Intractable Pain from Knee Osteoarthritis
    Prospective Study
    Sang Hoon Lee, MD, Hyun Hee Choi, MS, Sang Gyu Kwak, PhD, and Min Cheol Chang, MD.

BACKGROUND: The knee joint is one of the most common diseases in elderly individuals. This is a progressive and debilitating condition. The purpose of knee osteoarthritis treatment is to manage pain, increase mobility, and improve the quality of life.

OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated the therapeutic effect of radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RFTC) on the genicular nerves in patients with intractable pain due to knee osteoarthritis, as well as its effects on pain severity and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.

STUDY DESIGN: A prospective outcome study.

SETTING: The outpatient clinic of a single academic medical center.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective study. Fifty consecutive patients with intractable knee pain due to osteoarthritis were enrolled and underwent ultrasound (US)-guided RFTC of the genicular nerves (medial superior genicular nerve, medial inferior genicular nerve, and lateral superior genicular nerve). Pain severity was measured using the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS), and knee osteoarthritis-associated symptoms were evaluated using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) at pretreatment and one, 3, and 6 months after RFTC treatment. We also analyzed the relationship between therapeutic outcomes and pain severity based on pre-treatment and knee MRI findings.

RESULTS: No dropouts were observed. The most significant reduction in knee symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis was observed after one month of treatment; however, at 3 and 6 months, there was a rebound effect, leading to a decrease in therapeutic efficacy. Nonetheless, there was still a noticeable decrease in symptoms due to knee osteoarthritis compared to those prior to RFTC treatment. The effect of RFTC treatment was better when pre-treatment pain was relatively less severe, knee effusion was not severe, there were no meniscal tears in the middle or posterior zones, no bone marrow edema in the middle and posterior zones of the femur and tibia, and no severe cartilage defects in the posterior femur and middle and posterior tibia.

LIMITATIONS: We conducted our study without a control or a placebo group.

CONCLUSION: RFTC of the genicular nerve is a good therapeutic option for controlling intractable pain following knee osteoarthritis. In addition, we found that a lower level of pain prior to treatment, along with the absence or lesser degree of knee joint effusion, as well as an absence or less severe middle or posterior knee pathologies associated with knee osteoarthritis, can predict a more favorable therapeutic outcome.

KEY WORDS: knee, osteoarthritis, radiofrequency ablation, genicular nerve, pain, magnetic resonance imaging