Table 20

Complications of cervical facet joint procedures

Author, yearPatient populationDesignResultsComments
Barnsley et al
16 pts with chronic neck pain after MVCProspective observationalTransient disequilibrium on rising after the procedure lasting for a few minutes was common4/16 pts had presyncope that resolved spontaneously
Lord et al 1995312RFA of cervical facet joint innervation in 19 pts (28 procedures)Prospective observationalAtaxia was a common adverse effect of third occipital neurotomy; numbness, dysesthesia, and pruritus also reportedHigh failure rate (70%) of TON neurotomy
Lord et al 199668RFA of cervical facet joint innervation in 24 pts (12: active; 12: control)Randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind5 of 12 (42%) pts in active group had numbness in the cutaneous distribution of ablated nerves1 patient developed a psoriatic rash at the skin incision (Köebner’s phenomenon) 1 week after RFA
Govind et al 2003307RFA of TON (C2–3 facet joint innervation) in 49 ptsProspective observationalSlight ataxia (95%), numbness (97%), and temporary dysesthesia (55%) were commonNo intervention required for adverse effects
Gazelka et al
RFA of TON (C2–3 facet joint innervation) in 64 ptsProspective observational12 (19%) pts reported neuropathic pain in the cutaneous distribution of the TONEffects of administering steroids at the end of RFA unclear
  • MVC, motor vehicle collision; pts, patients; RFA, radiofrequency ablation; TON, third occipital nerve.;