Objective: A patient with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) did not respond to medications, either singly or in combination, or to intrathecal methylprednisolone but responded to intrathecal alcohol. This evidenced-based case management article evaluates and grades the evidence for the prevention and treatment of PHN.
Methods: A search of published English-language studies on the prevention and treatment of PHN was made.
Results: Randomized clinical studies showed the efficacy of antiviral agents in the prevention of PHN and the use of anticonvulsants, antidepressants, opioids, and Lidoderm patch in the treatment of PHN (level A evidence). The role of epidural local anesthetic and steroid injections in preventing PHN has not been completely established (level B evidence). Intrathecal steroid injections and topical capsaicin may be effective in PHN (level B evidence). No randomized controlled study supports the usefulness of spinal cord stimulation and intrathecal alcohol.
Conclusions: Postherpetic neuralgia should be managed pharmacologically. If not effective, intrathecal steroid injections or nerve blocks may be tried. Spinal cord stimulation or intrathecal alcohol should be used only as a last resort.
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Supported by the Department of Anesthesiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL.
This article was presented at the American Society of Regional Anesthesia Annual Meeting; May 2008; Cancun, Mexico.