Microtenotomy using a radiofrequency probe to treat lateral epicondylitis

Arthroscopy. 2005 Jul;21(7):851-60. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2005.03.019.


Purpose: To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of microtenotomy using a radiofrequency (RF) probe to treat chronic tendinosis of the common extensor tendon origins of the elbow (lateral epicondyle).

Type of study: Prospective, nonrandomized consecutive case series.

Methods: The average age of the 13 patients was 48.3 +/- 5.5 years. Before receiving the microtenotomy, all patients had tendinosis symptoms for 6 months or longer and had failed conservative treatment. The RF-based microdebridement was performed on the symptomatic tendon using the TOPAZ Microdebrider device (ArthroCare, Sunnyvale, CA). Patients were followed-up at regular postoperative intervals for 24 months. Pain status was documented using a visual analog scale self-reported measure. Functional outcome was assessed using the upper limb DASH evaluation and grip-strength measures. Quality of life assessment was evaluated using the SF-36 questionnaire. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed at regular intervals over the follow-up period.

Results: Patients reported significantly reduced pain from baseline at the 7- to 10-day postoperative examination (P < or = .01). Pain reduction was statistically stable from 7 to 10 days through the 24-month postoperative period (P < or = .01). Limb-specific functional outcomes and quality of life scores were improved over baseline values. There were no perioperative or postoperative complications related to the procedure.

Conclusions: The RF-based microtenotomy procedure was safe and effective through at least 2 years. This procedure provides a valuable addition for treating patients with lateral epicondylitis associated with tendinosis who have failed conservative therapy.

Level of evidence: Level IV.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint
  • Male
  • Microsurgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Tendinopathy / radiotherapy*
  • Tendinopathy / surgery
  • Tennis Elbow / radiotherapy*
  • Tennis Elbow / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome