4 years ago

Comparison of efficacy of continuous epidural block and pulsed radiofrequency to the dorsal root ganglion for management of pain persisting beyond the acute phase of herpes zoster

Young In Lee, Eung Don Kim, Hue Jung Park

by Eung Don Kim, Young In Lee, Hue Jung Park


There is little evidence regarding the effectiveness of intervention methods in the treatment of zoster-related pain (ZAP) after the acute phase of zoster. Generally, if ZAP remains after more than 180 days from its onset, the likelihood of pain reduction is very low; this condition is considered as a “well established” post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Although the clinical efficacy of intrathecal steroid injection and spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for ZAP management has been reported, these interventions are not widely used due to inherent disadvantages. Continuous epidural block is widely used in clinical practice, and the effectiveness of pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) to the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) in the treatment of ZAP already has been reported.


The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical efficacy of continuous epidural block and DRG PRF beyond acute phase of zoster, bur before PHN was well established (from 30 days to180 days after zoster onset).

Study design

Retrospective comparative study.


A total of 42 medical records were analyzed. Patients were divided into two groups according to the type of procedure utilized: continuous epidural block (continuous epidural group) and DRG PRF (PRF group). The clinical efficacy of the procedure was evaluated using a numeric rating scale (NRS) and the medication dose before and 1 to 6 months after the procedure.


There was a significant decrease in the NRS value with time in both groups. However, this decrease was more significant in the PRF group than in the continuous epidural group. The medication doses decreased significantly in the PRF group over time, but not in the continuous epidural group. The rate of clinically meaningful PHN (NRS≥3) was also lower in the PRF group than in the continuous epidural group.


This study revealed that DRG PRF was more effective than a continuous epidural block in treating ZAP after the acute phase of zoster. A neuromodulation method such as DRG PRF may be a useful option for reducing the progression of neuropathic changes caused by the persistent transmission of a pain signal after the acute phase of zoster.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183559

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