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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 504

Splanchnic nerve radiofrequency ablation for treating resistant abdominal pain

1 Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Firelands Regional Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Sandusky, Ohio, USA
2 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Correspondence Address:
Alaa Abd-Elsayed
Department of Anesthesiology, B6/319 CSC, 600, Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53792-3272
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sja.SJA_206_17

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Date of Web Publication22-Sep-2017

How to cite this article:
Zaky S, Abd-Elsayed A. Splanchnic nerve radiofrequency ablation for treating resistant abdominal pain. Saudi J Anaesth 2017;11:504

How to cite this URL:
Zaky S, Abd-Elsayed A. Splanchnic nerve radiofrequency ablation for treating resistant abdominal pain. Saudi J Anaesth [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Aug 20];11:504. Available from:


We present a 50-year-old female patient with resistant abdominal pain for more than 2 years. The patient developed this pain after she undergone cholecystectomy. The patient initially undergone workup including images and laboratory work to exclude any abdominal condition. All her investigations were negative.

The patient tried several medications and procedures with no long-term pain relief. The patient used to visit the emergency room frequently due to severe abdominal pain. We decided to move forward with bilateral splanchnic nerve blocks with steroid injection. Block resulted in 80% improvement in her pain that lasted for 3 weeks. Because pain relief was short living, we discussed with patient performing a radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for the same nerves to provide longer term pain relief and the patient agreed.

Procedure: After obtaining an informed consent, the patient was placed in the supine position, and her back was prepped using standard sterile technique using full-body drapes. After infiltration of the skin with 1% lidocaine for local anesthesia, 20-gauge 145 mm with 10 mm active tip-curved RFA needles were advanced bilaterally to anterolateral aspect of T11 and T12 under fluoroscopic guidance. Sensory testing reproduced abdominal pain at 0.5–0.8 V at all sites. Thermal RFA was carried out at 80° for 90 s × 2 cycles with needle rotation to maximize lesion size.

The patient reported 50% reduction in her pain after RFA which continued for 5 months. Repeat RFA was performed after 5 months that provided 60% improvement in her pain.

RFA and pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) are effective in treating different painful conditions such as fascial pain using sphenopalatine ganglion or trigeminal RFA,[1] pain originating from somatic nerves and joints [2] as well as several other conditions.

It is very important to keep those uses in mind as RFA and PRF have become more popular for treating axial pain and joint pain while their uses can cover a much broader spectrum of other painful conditions.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

Dr. Abd-Elsayed is a consultant for Innocoll, Axsome, Medtronic, Halyard, SpineLoop and Ultimaxx health.

  References Top

Yin W. Sphenopalatine ganglion radiofrequency lesions in the treatment of facial pain. Tech Reg Anesth Pain Manag 2004;8:25-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Wilkes D, Ganceres N, Solanki D, Hayes M. Pulsed radiofrequency treatment of lower extremity phantom limb pain. Clin J Pain 2008;24:736-9.  Back to cited text no. 2

This article has been cited by
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Mani Singh, Jay Karri, Vwaire Orhurhu, Laura Lachman, Alaa Abd-Elsayed
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America. 2021; 32(4): 647
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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