Amputees Phantom Limb Pain Eased With Cryoablation

Targeted treatment of nerve and scar tissue found to improve symptoms
Targeted treatment of nerve and scar tissue found to improve symptoms

HealthDay News — Cryoablation therapy may reduce phantom limb pain that many amputees experience, according to a new, small study presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology, held from April 2 to 7 in Vancouver, Canada.

For the study, 20 amputees diagnosed with phantom limb pain underwent image-guided cryoablation, which involved insertion of a probe needle under the skin at the point of limb loss. Local nerves were then exposed to 25 minutes of cold blasts, shutting down localized nerve signaling.

Forty-five days after treatment, average patient pain scores on a scale of 1 to 10 went from the pre-freezing score of 6.4 to 2.4. Lead author J. David Prologo, MD, an assistant professor in the division of interventional radiology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, told HealthDaythat efforts are underway to get the process approved by the American Medical Association for phantom limb pain treatment. But, he remains cautious about the current preliminary findings until further research is completed.

"It may not work for everyone," Prologo said. "Although the overall average change in pain scores and quality of life improved and reached statistical significance, not every single patient got better. How to identify the patient who will respond is the focus of our ongoing research."

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