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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003 Oct 15;28(20):2419-25.

Sensory stimulation-guided sacroiliac joint radiofrequency neurotomy: technique based on neuroanatomy of the dorsal sacral plexus.

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Interventional Medical Associates of Bellingham, P.C., 2075 Barkley Boulevard, Suite 110, Bellingham, WA 98226, USA.



A retrospective audit and examination of anatomic findings.


To examine the effectiveness of sensory stimulation-guided radiofrequency neurotomy for the treatment of recalcitrant sacroiliac joint pain.


Sacroiliac joint-mediated pain is a distinct clinical entity. The prevalence of intra-articular pain arising from the sacroiliac joint in patients with low back pain has been estimated at 15% to 30%. Unfortunately, the clinical success of current treatment methods for chronic sacroiliac pain is discouraging. Based on the anatomy of the sacral posterior primary rami and their lateral branch nerves, an anatomically based sensory stimulation-guided radiofrequency technique was developed to overcome the inherent challenge posed by the variable topography of the sacral lateral branch nerves. MATERIALS AND METHODS ANATOMIC STUDY: Meticulous dissection exposing the dorsal sacral plexus and lateral branch nerves entering the sacroiliac joint complex was performed on three cadaveric specimens. Small-gauge wires were placed adjacent to the lateral branch nerves entering the joint and over the dorsal sacrum to the dorsal sacral foramina. Fluoroscopic images were obtained correlating the location and number of these branches arising from the posterior primary rami of S1-S3 to identifiable bony landmarks.


A retrospective chart review was performed selecting patients who underwent sensory stimulation-guided sacral lateral branch radiofrequency neurotomy after dual analgesic sacroiliac joint deep interosseous ligament analgesic testing between February 17, 1998 and March 15, 1999.


A total of 14 patients met inclusion criteria for this retrospective study. Success was defined as greater than 60% consistent subjective relief and greater than a 50% consistent decrease in visual integer pain score, maintained for at least 6 months after the procedure. Sixty-four percent of patients experienced a successful outcome, with 36% experiencing complete relief. Fourteen percent of patients did not achieve any improvement. No patients experienced a complication or worsening of their pain from the procedure.


A sensory stimulation-guided approach toward the identification and subsequent radiofrequency thermocoagulation of symptomatic sacral lateral branch nerves appears to offer significant therapeutic advantages over existing therapies for the treatment of chronic sacroiliac joint complex pain.

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