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Int J Rheum Dis. 2017 Mar;20(3):309-316. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.12635. Epub 2015 May 20.

Pulse-dose radiofrequency can reduce chronic pain in trapezio-metacarpal osteoarthritis: A mini-invasive therapeutic approach.

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Department of Diagnostic and Molecular Imaging, Interventional Radiology and Radiation Therapy, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy.



To assess the efficiency of pulse-dose radiofrequency (PDRF) in the management of chronic pain in patients with trapezio-metacarpal osteoarthritis (OA).


Seventy-five patients with trapezio-metacarpal OA were treated with the PDRF between October 2011 and September 2013. A 22-gauge cannula with a 5-cm length was introduced with percutaneous access in the lateral region of the affected trapezio-metacarpal joint. The PDRF procedure was performed with 1200 pulses at 45 V and 20 msec duration, followed by a 480 msec silent phase. The follow-up visits were performed at 1 month, 3 and 6 months after the PDRF procedure. All patients underwent a second treatment between 7 and 9 months after the first PDRF procedure with a new follow-up scheme at 1, 3, 6 and 9 months.


Mean visual analogue scale (VAS) scores before the procedures was 8.5 ± 1.1. A great reduction in pain intensity was reported at 3 months after the PDRF procedure (mean VAS scores 3.1 ± 0.9, P < 0.05). Pain intensity began to increase back to pre-procedural values after 4 months (mean VAS scores at 6 months was 7.9 ± 1.3, P < 0.05). After the second PDRF treatment the mean VAS scores decreased to 3.3 ± 0.8 at 3 months, but increased to 8.1 ± 1.6 at 9 months. (P < 0.05). No complications after the procedures were observed.


The PDRF may be a safe, repeatable and effective short-term pain management technique in patients with trapezio-metacarpal OA. Larger, randomized controlled studies are indicated to better clarify the efficacy and utility of the PDRF.


chronic pain; pulse dose radiofrequency; radiofrequency; trapezio-metacarpal osteoarthritis

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