Percutaneous Cordotomy (Cancer Pain Treatment)

Percutaneous cordotomy is a surgical procedure that is primarily used in the management of severe cancer pain that is not adequately controlled by other pain management techniques. It involves selectively destroying specific pain-conducting nerve fibers within the spinal cord to reduce or eliminate pain signals.

During a percutaneous cordotomy, a neurosurgeon makes a small incision in the back and inserts a specialized needle or electrode into the spinal cord under fluoroscopic guidance. The needle or electrode is then carefully positioned at the target location within the cord, usually at the level corresponding to the area of pain. Once in place, thermal energy, such as radiofrequency waves or heat generated by a laser, is applied to selectively destroy the pain-transmitting nerve fibers.

The goal of percutaneous cordotomy is to interrupt the pain signals from reaching the brain, thereby providing pain relief for cancer patients who have severe pain that is resistant to other treatments. This procedure is typically reserved for patients with advanced cancer and a limited life expectancy, as it is an irreversible procedure that can cause permanent loss of pain and temperature sensation below the level of the cordotomy.

It’s important to note that percutaneous cordotomy is a complex procedure that carries risks and potential complications, including infection, bleeding, and neurological deficits. Therefore, it is typically considered as a last resort when all other conservative pain management options have been exhausted and the benefits of pain relief outweigh the risks.

If you or a loved one is considering percutaneous cordotomy for cancer pain, it is essential to consult with a specialized healthcare team, including a pain management specialist and a neurosurgeon experienced in the procedure. They will thoroughly evaluate the individual’s condition, discuss the potential benefits and risks, and help make an informed decision about the suitability of percutaneous cordotomy as part of the overall pain management plan.

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