Efficacy and Safety of Pulsed Radiofrequency in Herpes Zoster Related Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Pain Res. 2023 Feb 2;16:341-355. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S396209. eCollection 2023.


Purpose: Pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) is a neuromodulation technique for neuropathic pain. However, the effects of PRF on zoster-related trigeminal neuralgia (TN) remain unclear. The purpose of this meta-analysis is to investigate the efficacy and safety of PRF in the management of zoster-related TN.

Patients and methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Chinese Biomedical Database (CBM), Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and Wanfang for randomized controlled trials from their inception to August 2022. The primary clinical outcomes included pain intensity and adverse events. Secondary clinical outcomes included pain remission rate, trigeminal postherpetic neuralgia (TPHN) incidence, rescue analgesic dose, sleep quality, and quality of life (QoL).

Results: Eight studies with 788 participants were included for final analysis. PRF group exhibited lower pain scores (week 1: MD -2.10, 95% CI -3.28 to -0.93, P=0.0005; week 4: MD -1.56, 95% CI -2.60 to -0.51, P=0.003; week 12: MD -1.52, 95% CI -2.68 to -0.35, P=0.01), lower risk of TPHN incidence (RR 0.22, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.81, P=0.02) and better sleep quality (week 4: MD -2.52, 95% CI -3.28 to -1.77, P<0.01; week 12: MD -2.25, 95% CI -2.90 to -1.60, P<0.01) than control group. Besides, pain remission rate (RR 1.08, 95% CI 0.93 to 1.26, P=0.31) and adverse events (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.71 to 1.27, P=0.74) were comparable in both groups.

Conclusion: PRF is an effective and safe treatment and it yields better effects in pain relief, improvement of sleep quality, and prevention of developing TPHN. Although PRF provides a comparable pain remission rate with the control, it is still a preferred and alternative treatment for relieving zoster-related facial pain.

Keywords: herpes zoster; neuromodulation; neuropathic pain; trigeminal nerve.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

No funding was provided for this study from any source.