Percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of the splanchnic nerves in patients with chronic pancreatitis: results of single and repeated procedures in 11 patients.

B.P.M. Verhaegh, M. van Kleef, J.W. Geurts, M. Puylaert, J. van Zundert, A.G. Kessels, A.A.M. Masclee, Y.C. Keulemans*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Pain is a major problem for chronic pancreatitis (CP) patients. Unfortunately, medical therapy often fails. Endoscopic and surgical treatments are invasive, and results vary. Percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of the splanchnic nerves (RFSN) is a relatively new and minimally invasive procedure for treatment of intractable pain in CP patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively evaluated 18 RFSN procedures in 11 CP patients, all refractory to analgesics. Five patients underwent a second procedure; two patients underwent a third procedure. NRS pain scores were assessed. Complications, analgesics usage, and length of the pain-free period were recorded. RESULTS: Radiofrequency ablation of the splanchnic nerves was effective in 15/18 interventions. The mean NRS pain score decreased from 7.7 +/- 1.0 to 2.8 +/- 2.7 (P </= 0.001). The pain-free period lasted for a median period of 45 weeks. The effect of repeated interventions was comparable to the initial procedure. One transient side effect was reported. Four patients reported significantly reduced analgesic usage; 4 patients completely stopped their pain medication. CONCLUSION: Radiofrequency ablation of the splanchnic nerves is a minimally invasive, effective procedure for pain relief. After the effect has subsided, RFSN can be successfully repeated. RFSN might become an alternative treatment in a selected group of CP patients. A larger, randomized trial is justified to substantiate these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-626
JournalPain Practice
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

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