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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Sep 2020 - 25 Sep 2020

2020 Sep 23

AJR Am J Roentgenol

The Pain Crisis: Interventional Radiology’s Role in Pain Management.


Fletcher A, Moore KJ, Stensby JD, Hulbert A, Saemi AM, Davis RM, Bhat AP
AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2020 Sep 23.
PMID: 32966117.


Pain is a complex syndrome that is difficult to treat. The increasing numbers of patients living with chronic diseases has led to increasing pain management needs and the rise of opioid use disorder as a major, and potentially lethal, public health concern. Treatment of chronic pain with prescription opioids alone is not always successful, and a multi-disciplinary approach is paramount to address the needs of patients at risk of developing or suffering from OUD. Interventional radiologists trained to perform minimally invasive procedures with negligible downtime and post procedure pain can help stem the tide of opioid related deaths and disability. This article reviews a wide range of minimally invasive procedures, including vertebral augmentation, sacroplasty, thermal ablation of osseous metastasis, nerve blocks, and gonadal vein embolization, that interventional radiologists are now using successfully to treat chronic pain. The evidence to support use of such procedures is highlighted. This article also briefly discusses emerging techniques, such as arterial embolization and ablation for knee and shoulder osteoarthritis, that have not yet been fully tested though exhibit strong potential in chronic pain management. By reducing opioid use in patients suffering from chronic pain, these minimally invasive procedures can potentially prevent escalation to OUD.