The Therapeutic Efficacy of Pulsed Radiofrequency Alone Versus a Dexamethasone and Pulsed Radiofrequency Combination in Patients With Trigeminal Postherpetic Neuralgia: A Double-blind, Randomized Controlled Trial

Pain Physician. 2022 Jul;25(4):E543-E549.


Background: Pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) of the Gasserian ganglion is a common surgical intervention used to treat trigeminal postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Dexamethasone has been reported to possess anti-inflammatory effects and potential analgesic benefits.

Objectives: The primary objective of our study was to compare the therapeutic efficacies of PRF alone versus a combination of PRF and dexamethasone for trigeminal PHN.

Study design: A prospective, double-blind, randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Department of Pain Management, Wuhan First Hospital.

Methods: A total of 103 patients diagnosed with trigeminal PHN were randomly assigned into 2 groups (the PRF group and PRF plus dexamethasone [PRF+D] group). Digital subtraction angiography-guided puncture of the Gasserian ganglion was performed. All patients received PRF of the Gasserian ganglion first, and then a local injection was administered into the Gasserian ganglion. Patients in the PRF+D group received PRF therapy and one mL of 5 mg dexamethasone in the Gasserian ganglion, while patients in the PRF group received PRF therapy and one mL of normal saline in the Gasserian ganglion. The primary outcome was pain intensity, measured by the visual analog scale (VAS). The secondary outcome was quality of life, assessed by the Short Form-36 questionnaire (SF-36). The dosage of pregabalin administered was recorded to assess treatment effectiveness.

Results: Compared with the PRF group in this study, the PRF+D group showed more promising outcome results in pain relief as measured by the VAS; quality of life enhancement, as measured by the SF-36; and a reduced requirement for antiepileptic drugs (P < 0.01).

Limitations: Single center study, relatively small number of patients.

Conclusions: The therapeutic efficacy of PRF combined with a dexamethasone injection into the Gasserian ganglion was superior to that of PRF{and saline injection} alone of the Gasserian ganglion for trigeminal PHN.

Keywords: dexamethasone; quality of life; trigeminal postherpetic neuralgia; Pulsed radiofrequency.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neuralgia, Postherpetic* / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulsed Radiofrequency Treatment* / methods
  • Quality of Life
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia* / therapy


  • Dexamethasone