Radiofrequency ablation: Minimally invasive treatment can help patients with pain, especially those with osteopetrosis

August 28, 2023

Even as a long-time nurse, Laurie White had to research radiofrequency ablation (RFA) when it was suggested as a possible solution for her increasing back pain. She was being treated by oncologists for breast cancer and was developing increasing bone pain. A CT scan and MRI showed where the pain generators were. RFA, along with kyphoplasty, was the recommendation. Laurie White

Interventional Radiologist Evert-Jan Verschuyl used RFA to help destroy Laurie’s tumor by inserting two X-ray guided needles into her spine that created heat by using radiofrequency. The procedure essentially burns the nerves in the area to virtually eliminate the pain being caused by the lesions.

Then, through the same small access point, a catheter with a balloon created space to perform a kyphoplasty to insert a small amount of cement into Laurie’s spinal compression fractures. After 15 minutes, all that remains is two small marks on the skin.

“Because it’s so minimally invasive recovery can be very quick,” said Dr. Verschuyl. “It’s been true for Laurie and works well on other patients.”

RFA can be complimentary to many treatments. Many elderly patients with osteopetrosis have benefited from RFA / kyphoplasty because of the limited impact on the body, and relatively easy and quick recovery.  

“There’s really a lack of awareness out there for our ability to help people,” said Dr. Verschuyl. Studies show, nearly 90 percent of patients referred to an interventional radiologist have never heard of it. “It’s not for every fracture, but there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of awareness. 90 percent of the elderly people who have fractures can lead to serious consequences. We’d like to help lower that number.”

Laurie wishes she would have known sooner. Her back pain had been bothering her for years, even causing her falls, before she had the recent procedures.

“I’m able to do so many things that I couldn’t do before. The procedure has done wonders. My function and ability have improved dramatically,” she says. “As humans, we adapt and that’s what I did.  I knew better, but I just figured out how to cope.”

 I would recommend this to anyone. Had I known about it, I would have done it years ago.”

If you have a patient to refer for interventional radiology procedures such as RFA, call St. Peter Diagnostic Imaging at 360-486-6147 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Verschuyl and the team at South Sound Radiology can be reached at 360-252-9301.

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