Cooled radiofrequency ablation versus standard medical management for chronic sacroiliac joint pain: a multicenter, randomized comparative effectiveness study Article

Full Text via DOI: 10.1136/rapm-2023-104568 Web of Science: 001033273100001

Cited authors

  • Cohen SP, Kapural L, Kohan L, Li S, Hurley RW, Vallejo R, Eshraghi Y, Dinakar P, Durbhakula S, Beall DP, Desai MJ, Reece D, Christiansen S, Chang MH, Carinci AJ, DePalma M


  • Introduction Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with sacroiliac joint pain comprising up to 30% of cases of axial lower back pain. Conservative therapies provide only modest relief. Although placebo-controlled trials show efficacy for sacral lateral branch cooled radiofrequency ablation, there are no comparative effectiveness studies.Methods In this randomized, multicenter comparative effectiveness study, 210 patients with clinically suspected sacroiliac joint pain who obtained short-term benefit from diagnostic sacroiliac joint injections and prognostic lateral branch blocks were randomly assigned to receive cooled radiofrequency ablation of the L5 dorsal ramus and S1-S3 lateral branches or standard medical management consisting of pharmacotherapy, injections and integrative therapies. The primary outcome measure was mean reduction in low back pain score on a 0-10 Numeric Rating Scale at 3 months. Secondary outcomes included measures of quality of life and function.Results 3 months post-treatment, the mean Numeric Rating Scale pain score for the cooled radiofrequency ablation group was 3.8 +/- 2.4 (mean reduction 2.5 +/- 2.5) compared with 5.9 +/- 1.7 (mean reduction 0.4 +/- 1.7) in the standard medical management group (p<0.0001). 52.3% of subjects in the cooled radiofrequency ablation group experienced >2 points or 30% pain relief and were deemed responders versus 4.3% of standard medical management patients (p<0.0001). Comparable improvements favoring cooled radiofrequency ablation were noted in Oswestry Disability Index score (mean 29.7 +/- 15.2 vs 41.5+13.6; p<0.0001) and quality of life (mean EuroQoL-5 score 0.68 +/- 0.22 vs 0.47 +/- 0.29; p<0.0001).Conclusions In patients with sacroiliac joint pain, cooled radiofrequency ablation provided statistically superior improvements across the spectrum of patient outcomes compared with standard medical management.

Publication date

  • 2023

Published in

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1098-7339

Number of pages

  • 8