Systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of radiofrequency ablation of the sacroiliac joint


Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center


Purpose of review:To evaluate the effectiveness of radiofrequency neurotomy in managing sacroiliac joint pain utilizing a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies.

Recent findings:The prevalence of sacroiliac joint pain is estimated at around 25% of low back pain cases, and its diagnosis lacks a gold standard. Treatments include exercise therapy, injections, ablation, and fusion, with variable effectiveness. COVID-19 altered utilization patterns of interventions, including sacroiliac joint procedures, and the evidence for these interventions remains inconclusive. Recently, Medicare has issued its local coverage determinations (LCDs) in the United States, which provides noncoverage of sacroiliac joint radiofrequency neurotomy. Additionally, a recent systematic review of sacroiliac joint injections showed Level III or fair evidence. The sacroiliac joint, a critical axial joint linking the spine and pelvis, contributes to low back pain. Its complex innervation pattern varies among individuals. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, causing pain and stiffness, arises from diverse factors.The present systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate radiofrequency neurotomy's effectiveness for sacroiliac joint pain management by applying rigorous methodology, considering both RCTs and observational studies. Despite methodological disparities, the evidence from this review, supported by changes in pain scores and functional improvement, suggests Level III evidence with fair recommendation for radiofrequency neurotomy as a treatment option. The review's strengths include its comprehensive approach and quality assessment. However, limitations persist, including variations in criteria and technical factors, underscoring the need for further high-quality studies in real-world scenarios.



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