Article Text

Download PDFPDF
An Alternate Method of Radiofrequency Neurotomy of the Sacroiliac Joint: A Pilot Study of the Effect on Pain, Function, and Satisfaction
  1. Robert S. Burnham, M.Sc., M.D., F.R.C.P.C. and
  2. Yutaka Yasui, Ph.D.
  1. Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada
  2. Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada.
  1. Reprint requests: Robert S. Burnham, M.Sc., M.D., F.R.C.P.C., 1 6220-Highway 2A Lacombe, Alberta T4L 2G5, Canada. E-mail: rburnham{at}


Background and Objectives: The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) can be a source of chronic refractory mechanical spine pain. Few previous studies have described radiofrequency (RF) sensory denervation of the SIJ; results have been inconsistent and technically demanding. This uncontrolled, prospective, cohort study evaluates the effects of an innovative method of RF ablation of the posterior sensory nerves of the SIJ on pain, analgesic use, disability, and satisfaction of patients suffering with chronic mechanical SIJ pain.

Methods: Nine subjects with SIJ pain, confirmed by a local anesthetic joint block, were studied. Subjects were treated with a series of RF strip lesions performed adjacent to the lateral dorsal foraminal aperture plus conventional monopolar lesioning at the L5 dorsal ramus. Each subject completed a questionnaire twice before and at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after the procedure. The questionnaire evaluated pain intensity and frequency, analgesic intake, disability, satisfaction (with current pain level and the RF procedure), and procedure complications. Data were analyzed by using linear mixed model analysis.

Results: After the procedure, significant reductions of back and leg pain frequency and severity, analgesic intake, and dissatisfaction with their current level of pain occurred. Complications were minimal. Overall, 8 of 9 subjects were satisfied with the procedure.

Conclusions: RF sensory ablation of the SIJ using bipolar strip lesions is a technically uncomplicated and low-risk procedure. The resulting effects on pain, disability, and satisfaction are promising. Further evaluation of this technique, including randomized controlled trials, is recommended.

  • Radiofrequency neurotomy
  • Sacroiliac joint

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Supported by a grant from the Edmonton Orthopaedic Association.