Current Issue - March/April - Vol 19 Issue 3


  1. 2016;19;155-161Radiofrequency Neurolysis for Lumbar Pain Using a Variation of the Original Technique
    Retrospective Evaluation
    Jorge F. Ramirez Leon, MD, Jose G Rugeles Ortiz, MD, Enrique Osorio Fonseca, MD, Carolina Ramirez Martinez, MD, and Gabriel Oswaldo Alonso Cuellar, DVM, Msc.

BACKGROUND: Zygapophysial joint arthrosis is a pathology related with axial lumbar pain. The most accepted treatment, after failure of medical management, is the thermal denervation of the medial branch. Nonetheless, the placement of the heat probe remains a challenge to surgeons, even when using the fluoroscope. Using a variation of Shealy’s and Bogduk’s original techniques, which includes ablation of the medial branch and the nerves present in the joint capsule, we hypothesize that we can obtain similar outcomes to those found in the literature.

OBJECTIVE: To present the results attained over the last 8 years in the treatment of axial lumbar pain from zygapophysial joints degeneration, by employing a variation of the lumbar medial branch neurotomy technique, called 360-degree facet rhizotomy with radiofrequency.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective evaluation.

SETTING: Spine Center – Minimally Invasive Surgery in Bogotá, Colombia.

METHODS: A medical chart review was conducted for patients diagnosed with axial lumbar pain from zygapophysial joint arthrosis and treated with 360-degree facet rhizolysis with a high frequency radiofrequency energy source between 2008 and 2014. Data were evaluated under modified MacNab and pre- and postoperative visual analog scale (VAS) criteria.

RESULTS: We obtained a total of 73 patients. The average population age was 58.6 years. The preoperative VAS obtained was 7.3, which changed to 1.7 one year after the procedure. The MacNab criteria 12 months after the surgery gave satisfactory outcomes (excellent and good) from 91.7% of the patients.

LIMITATIONS: This retrospective study includes inherent limitations and only offers one year follow-up data.

CONCLUSIONS: Thermal therapy for zygapophysial joint arthrosis constitutes a safe and effective technique. The one year follow-up data presented here show that the ablation of the medial branch and nerves present in the joint capsule leads to satisfactory results in a high percentage of patients.