Background: The use of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedures to treat chronic knee pain has surged in the past decade, though many questions remain regarding anatomical targets, selection criteria, and evidence for effectiveness. Methods: A comprehensive literature review was performed on anatomy, selection criteria, technical parameters, results of clinical studies, and complications. Databases searched included MEDLINE and Google Scholar, with all types of clinical and preclinical studies considered. Results: We identified nine relevant clinical trials, which included 592 patients, evaluating knee RFA for osteoarthritis and persistent postsurgical pain. These included one randomized, placebo-controlled trial, one randomized controlled trial evaluating RFA as add-on therapy, four comparative-effectiveness studies, two randomized trials comparing different techniques and treatment paradigms, and one non-randomized, controlled trial. The results of these studies demonstrate significant benefit for both reduction and functional improvement lasting between 3 and 12 months, with questionable utility for prognostic blocks. There was considerable variation in the described neuroanatomy, neural targets, radiofrequency technique, and selection criteria. Conclusion: RFA of the knee appears to be a viable and effective treatment option, providing significant benefit to well-selected patients lasting at least 3 months. More research is needed to better identify neural targets, refine selection criteria to include the use of prognostic blocks, optimize treatment parameters, and better elucidate relative effectiveness compared to other treatments.
- Genicular nerve
- Knee pain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine