Radiofrequency applications to dorsal root ganglia: a literature review

Anesthesiology. 2008 Sep;109(3):527-42. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e318182c86e.


Application of radiofrequency currents to the dorsal root ganglia, in the treatment of various pain syndromes, has been clinically practiced for more than 30 yr. The clinical efficacy and the safety of this technique, however, remain poorly understood. The authors reviewed the literature on this modality of pain relief to determine its clinical efficacy, safety, and mechanisms of action. The two modalities in common clinical use were pulsed and continuous mode radiofrequency. These techniques were generally found to be safe, and the majority of the observational studies reported their clinical efficacy. Five randomized controlled trials evaluated their clinical use; these trials were relatively short-termed and small in size, and their results were variable. The mechanism of action of these techniques was unclear. Larger controlled clinical trials evaluating the long-term effects of these techniques and basic science research to determine their precise mode of action are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ganglia, Spinal / anatomy & histology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Pain Management*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiculopathy / therapy*
  • Radiofrequency Therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome