What is the role of ultrasound-guided percutaneous radiofrequency thermal lesioning in the treatment of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)?

Updated: Oct 30, 2018
  • Author: Bryant James Walrod, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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In August of 2011, Lin et al published a study looking at a novel method of treating chronic refractory lateral epicondylitis with ultrasound-guided percutaneous radiofrequency thermal lesioning (RTL). [9] They enrolled 34 patients (35 elbows) with symptoms of lateral epicondylitis for greater than 6 months in whom previous interventions had failed. Patients were examined at baseline and then at 1, 3, and 6 months after the index procedure. Outcomes measures were VAS at rest and activity, QuickDASH scores, and the Modified Mayo Clinic Performance Index (MMCPI) for the elbow.

Significant pain reductions were noted at the 1, 3, and 6 months of follow up. Grip strength improved significantly at 3 and 6 months of follow up but not significantly at the 1 month of follow up. DASH and MMCPI scores improved significantly at all follow-up measurements. Eighty-five percent of the patients reported pain relief at the 1-month follow-up. Ninety-one percent of the subjects reported good-to-excellent satisfaction results at 6 months. Five patients needed a repeat procedure because of unsatisfactory symptom relief, and, of these, 4 reported satisfactory results after the second procedure. No change was noted on ultrasound in the thickness of the origin of the extensor tendon. [9]

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