Minimally-invasive pain management techniques in palliative care

Bhavana Yalamuru, Jacqueline Weisbein, Amy C.S. Pearson, Enas S. Kandil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Pain is a common source of suffering for seriously ill patients. Typical first-line treatments consist of lifestyle modifications and medication therapy, including opioids. However, medical treatments often fail or are associated with limiting systemic toxicities, and more targeted interventional approaches are necessary. Herein, we present options for minimally invasive techniques for the alleviation of pain in palliative patients from a head-to-toe approach, with a focus on emerging therapies and advanced techniques. Head and neck: image-guided interventions targeted to sympathetic ganglia of the head and neck, such as sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) and stellate ganglion, have been shown to be effective for some forms of sympathetically-maintained and visceral pain. Interventions targeting branches of cranial nerves and upper cervical nerves, such as the glossopharyngeal nerve (GPN), are options in treating somatic head and face pain. Abdominal and pelvic: sympathetic blocks, including celiac plexus, inferior hypogastric, and ganglion impar can relieve visceral abdominal and pelvic pain. Spine and somatic pain: fascial plane blocks of the chest and abdominal wall and myofascial trigger point injections can be used for somatic pain indications. Cementoplasties, such as kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty, are used for pain related to bony metastases and compression fractures. Tumor ablative techniques can also be used for lytic lesions of the bone. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS), intrathecal drug delivery systems (IDDS), and cordotomy have also been used successfully in patients requiring advanced options, such as those with significant spinal, ischemic, or visceral pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-957
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of palliative medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Palliative care
  • chronic pain
  • interventional pain management
  • radiofrequency ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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