Bipolar radiofrequency lesion geometry: implications for palisade treatment of sacroiliac joint pain

Pain Pract. 2011 Jan-Feb;11(1):3-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2010.00400.x.


Ex vivo photographic temperature mapping of bipolar radiofrequency (RF) lesions in animal tissue is performed over a wide range of electrode tip spacings, tip lengths, tip diameters, tip temperatures, and lesion times. In vivo temperature measurements collected during clinical treatment of sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain corroborate those collected ex vivo. Generation of a "strip lesion" connecting two separated bipolar electrode tips is demonstrated ex vivo for tip spacings as large as 20 mm. A rounded rectangular bipolar lesion with midline dimensions 12 mm × 15 mm × 8 mm (L × W × D) is demonstrated using 10 mm parallel tip spacing, 10 mm tip lengths, 20 gauge cannulae, 90°C tip temperature, and 3-minute lesion time. Lesion length can be increased to 18 mm by using 15 mm tip lengths. Lesion width can be increased to 17 mm by using 12 mm tip spacing. The size of conventional bipolar lesions can exceed the size of lesions produced both by conventional monopolar RF (12 mm × 7 mm × 7 mm ellipsoidal) and by cooled monopolar RF as used in spinal pain management (10 mm × 10 mm × 10 mm spherical). SIJ pain is treated by placing 5 to 7 straight RF cannulae perpendicular to the dorsal sacrum and producing 4 to 6 overlapping bipolar RF lesions between the dorsal sacral foramina and the ipsilateral SIJ. This bipolar "palisade" (a defensive fence) creates a continuous lesion spanning the region through which multiple sacral lateral branch nerves travel along irregular, branching paths to reach the SIJ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catheter Ablation / instrumentation
  • Catheter Ablation / methods
  • Cattle
  • Electrodes
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Liver / surgery
  • Needles
  • Pain / pathology*
  • Pain / surgery*
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / instrumentation
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods
  • Sacroiliac Joint / surgery*
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors