Current Issue - July/August 2017 - Vol 20 Issue 5


  1. 2017;20;E747-E750Intercostal Neuralgia Occurring as a Complication of Splanchnic Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation in a Patient with Chronic Pancreatitis
    Case Report
    Saipriya Tewari, MD, Anil Agarwal, MD, Sujeet K. Gautam, MD, and Rajashree Madabushi, MD.

Our intent is to report a case of intercostal neuralgia occuring as a complication of splanchnic radiofreqency ablation (RFA), due to a breach in the integrity of the insulating sheath of the RFA needle.

A 48-year-old man presented to our pain clinic with upper abdominal pain due to chronic pancreatitis, recalcitrant to medical management. We decided to perform bilateral splanchnic nerve RFA in this patient. After confirmation of bilateral correct needle placement under fluoroscopic guidance and sensorimotor testing, RFA was performed on the right side uneventfully. However, during RFA on the left side, the patient experienced severe pain in the epigastric region. A bolus of fentanyl 50 µg was given intravenously in order to minimise discomfort, and RFA was performed. In the post-procedure period, the patient described severe pain in the left subcostal and epigastric region, with features suggestive of intercostal neuralgia of the left 11th intercostal nerve. We went back and analysed all the fluoroscopic images again. Convinced of correct needle placement, we examined the RFA needles which had been used for ablation in this patient. One of the needles was discovered to have a fine breach in its insulating sheath, at a distance of approximately 30 mm from the active tip.

It is of utmost importance for all interventional pain physicians to perform a thorough pre-use check of the equipment prior to any RFA procedure, with special emphasis on ensuring the integrity of the insulating sheath of the needles which are to be used, in order to prevent injury of non target nerves.

KEY WORDS: Splanchnic nerve block, radiofrequency ablation, intercostal neuralgia, radiofrequency ablation complications, radiofrequency equipment check, radiofrequency needle