5 Safety

5 Safety

This section describes safety outcomes from the published literature that the Committee considered as part of the evidence about this procedure. For more detailed information on the evidence, see the interventional procedure overview.

5.1 Superficial cellulitis 5 days after radiofrequency ablation treatment was reported in 1 patient in a case series of 29 patients. This was treated with a course of antibiotics.

5.2 Irritation of the posterior tibial nerve for 3 weeks after the procedure was reported in 1 patient in a case series of 25 patients. This resolved completely.

5.3 Moderate haematoma was reported in 1 patient in a case series of 20 patients. This was treated with antibiotics, non‑steroidal anti‑inflammatory drugs and elevation of the foot.

5.4 Burns at the site of the inactive (grounding) electrode (explained by the authors as a result of the electrode being placed too superficially) were reported in 2 patients, in an early case series of 71 patients published in 1989. These patients were each off work for a week.

5.5 In addition to safety outcomes reported in the literature, specialist advisers are asked about anecdotal adverse events (events which they have heard about) and about theoretical adverse events (events which they think might possibly occur, even if they have never done so). For this procedure, specialist advisers listed the following anecdotal adverse events: bruising, bone infarction, infection and hypertrophic scarring around the nerve. They considered that the following were theoretical adverse events: thermal necrosis of the skin, fat necrosis, injury to ligaments or adjacent structures, abscess formation, numbness, recurrence of pain after initial improvement, inadvertent nerve damage with pain and disability, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, stump neuroma formation and osteonecrosis of metatarsal head.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)