Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Anesth Anesth. 2015;2(2). pii: 028.

Long-Term Function, Pain and Medication Use Outcomes of Radiofrequency Ablation for Lumbar Facet Syndrome.

Author information

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago/Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, USA.
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, USA.



Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the medial branch nerves for facet-mediated low back pain demonstrates clinical benefit for 6-12 months and possibly up to 2 years. This study investigated function, pain, and medication use outcomes of RFA for lumbar facet syndrome in a cohort with long-term follow-up.


Individuals evaluated in a tertiary academic pain practice between January, 2007-December, 2013, 18-60 years of age, with a clinical and radiologic diagnosis of lumbar facet syndrome, who underwent ≥1set of diagnostic medial branch blocks with resultant >75% pain relief and subsequent RFA were included. Outcomes measured were the proportion of individuals who reported ≥50% improvement in function, ≥50% improvement in pain; change in median NRS pain score, daily morphine equivalent consumption (DME), Medication Quantification Scale III (MSQ III) score and procedure complications.


Sixty-two consecutive individuals with a median age and 25%-75% interquartile range (IQR) of 34 years (35, 52) met inclusion criteria. Seven individuals were lost to follow-up. Duration of pain was <2 years in 42%, 2-5 years in 40%, >5 years in 18% of individuals. Median duration of follow-up was 39 months (16, 60). Function and pain improved by ≥50% in 58% (CI 45%, 71%) and 53% (CI 40%, 66%) of individuals, respectively. The median reduction in MQS III score was 3.4 points (0, 8.8). No complications occurred in this cohort.


This study demonstrates a durable treatment effect of RFA for lumbar facet syndrome at long-term follow-up, as measured by improvement in function, pain, and analgesic use.


Denervation; Low back pain; Opioid analgesics; Zygapophyseal joint


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center