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Response of Cervicogenic Headaches and Occipital Neuralgia to Radiofrequency Ablation of the C2 Dorsal Root Ganglion and/or Third Occipital Nerve

Authors


  • Conflict of Interest: None.
  • NIH Funding Body: None.
  • “Other” NIH funding body:
  • Do any of the authors hold a position at NIH?: None.

Abstract

Objective

This article investigates the degree and duration of pain relief from cervicogenic headaches or occipital neuralgia following treatment with radiofrequency ablation of the C2 dorsal root ganglion and/or third occipital nerves. It also addresses the procedure's complication rate and patient's willingness to repeat the procedure if severe symptoms recur.

Methods

This is a single-center retrospective observational study of 40 patients with refractory cervicogenic headaches and or occipital neuralgia. Patients were all referred by a headache specialty clinic for evaluation for radiofrequency ablation of the C2 dorsal root ganglion and/or third occipital nerves. After treatment, patients were followed for a minimum of 6 months to a year. Patient demographics and the results of radiofrequency ablation were recorded on the same day, after 3-4 days, and at 6 months to 1 year following treatment.

Results

Thirty-five percent of patients reported 100% pain relief and 70% reported 80% or greater pain relief. The mean duration of improvement is 22.35 weeks. Complication rate was 12-13%. 92.5% of patients reported they would undergo the procedure again if severe symptoms returned.

Conclusions

Radiofrequency ablation of the C2 dorsal root ganglion and/or third occipital nerve can provide many months of greater than 50% pain relief in the vast majority of recipients with an expected length of symptom improvement of 5-6 months.

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