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Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2001 Mar-Apr;26(2):137-42.

Radiofrequency sacroiliac joint denervation for sacroiliac syndrome.

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Pain Medicine Center, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.



Radiofrequency (RF) denervation of the sacroiliac (SI) joint has been advocated for the treatment of sacroiliac syndrome, yet no clinical studies or case series support its use.


We report the results of a consecutive series of 50 SI joint RF denervations performed in 33 patients with sacroiliac syndrome. All patients underwent diagnostic SI joint injections with local anesthetic before denervation. Changes in visual analog pain scores (VAS), pain diagrams, physical examination (palpation tenderness over the joint, myofascial trigger points overlying the joint, SI joint pain provocation tests, and range of motion of the lumbar spine), and opioid use were assessed pre- and postdenervation.


The criteria for successful RF denervation were at least a 50% decrease in VAS for a period of at least 6 months; 36.4% of patients (12 of 33) met these criteria. Failure of denervation correlated with the presence of disability determination and pain on lateral flexion to the affected side. The average duration of pain relief was 12.0 +/- 1.2 months in responders versus 0.9 +/- 0.2 months in nonresponders (P < or = 0.0001). A positive response was associated with an atraumatic inciting event. Successful denervation was associated with a change in the pain diagram and a reduction in the pattern of referred pain, a normalization of SI joint pain provocation tests, and a reduction in the use of opioids.


This study suggests that RF denervation of the SI joint can significantly reduce pain in selected patients with sacroiliac syndrome for a protracted time period. Moreover, certain abnormal physical findings (i.e., SI joint pain provocation tests) revert to normal for the duration of the analgesia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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