Using a tiny ball of ice, a minimally invasive interventional radiology treatment called cryoneurolysis safely short circuits chronic pain caused by nerve damage, according to data being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 38th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.
- By freezing damaged nerves, minimally invasive cryoneurolysis can safely relieve the agonizing chronic pain caused by damaged nerves.
- Nerve-damaged patients said they experienced significant pain relief after treatment, in which a tiny ice ball froze the nerve, short circuiting pain signals sent to the brain.
- More than 15 million Americans suffer from chronic nerve pain, including people with diabetes and cancer.
- Interventional radiologists are physicians who specialize in minimally invasive targeted treatments.
“Cryoneurolysis could have big implications for the millions of people who suffer from neuralgia, which can be unbearable and is very difficult to treat,” said William Moore, M.D., medical director of radiology at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in Stony Brook, N.Y. “Cryoneurolysis offers these patients an innovative treatment option that provides significant lasting pain relief and allows them to take a lower dose of pain medication—or even skip drugs altogether,” added Moore, an interventional thoracic radiologist at Stony Brook.
More than 15 million Americans and Europeans suffer from neuralgia, in which nerves are damaged by diabetes, surgery or traumatic injury, Moore noted. Sufferers often rely on pain medications, which have side effects and may not provide enough relief. Cryoneurolysis uses a small probe that is cooled to minus 10 to minus 16 degrees Celsius, creating a freezer burn along the outer layer of the nerve. This interrupts the pain signal to the brain and blunts or eliminates the pain while allowing the damaged nerves to grow over time, explained Moore.
In the study, 20 patients received cryoneurolysis treatment for a variety of neuralgia syndromes and were evaluated using a visual pain scale questionnaire immediately
after treatment during one-week, one-month and three-month follow-ups after the initial procedure. Prior to treatment, patients’ pain plummeted from an average of 8 out of 10 on the pain scale to 2.4 one week after treatment. Pain relief was sustained for about two months after the procedure. Pain increased to an average of 4 out of 10 on the scale after six months due to nerve regeneration, Moore said. He recommends repeat cryoneurolysis treatments as needed per patient, however, some patients will receive up to a year of pain relief from a single treatment, he said.
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