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Pain Physician. 2016 Mar;19(3):E505-9.

Bipolar Radiofrequency Neurotomy to Treat Neck and Back Pain in Patients with Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK.
Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.


We report 2 cases of successful treatment of neck and back pain with bipolar radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the cervical and lumbar facet joints in patients with an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD).Two patients with complex cardiac histories and AICD devices were treated with bipolar RFA of the facet joints. One presented with axial neck pain and the other with axial back pain. The histories and physical examinations were consistent with facetogenic pain. Diagnostic medial branch block resulted in more than 70% pain relief lasting for several days, allowing patients to perform routine daily activities without significant pain. However, we were concerned about the use of conventional RFA of the medial branches of nerves for the fear of interference with the function of AICD by the RF currents and energy. We took advantage of the localized and limited current of bipolar RFA to perform this procedure for the cervical or lumbar facet joints avoiding any interference with the function of AICD. The procedures provided long-term pain relief to the patients, and marked improvement in their functional status without any evident complications related to the function of their AICD.This case report describes the safe and successful completion of bipolar RFA of the medial branch nerves to treat cervical and lumbar facetogenic pain in patients with AICD. This modality of treatment may be considered in patients with AICD. We are finding it to be increasingly common that patients who present with chronic neck and back pain have AICDs in place.

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