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Third-degree full-thickness burns as a complication of cervical radiofrequency ablation
  1. Vinicius Tieppo Francio1,
  2. Brandon Barndt2,
  3. James Eubanks3 and
  4. McCasey Smith1
  1. 1Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, USA
  2. 2Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vinicius Tieppo Francio; vtieppofrancio{at}


A 46-year-old woman underwent a cervical radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for chronic neck pain. Following the procedure, two areas surrounding the grounding pad in the lumbar region developed full thickness third-degree burns. Burn injuries following cervical RFA are rarely reported and are most often associated with cardiac and solid tumour RFA. Only one other case has been reported in literature with a similar outcome following a thoracic facet RFA. In our case, the lesion was directly from the ground pad and not from the radiofrequency electrode, which is more often the culprit. This is the first case reported in the literature of a full-thickness skin burn from a cervical RFA. Physicians should be aware of the potential for severe burns around the RF probe and ground pad as sequelae of RFA, and we caution the use of sedation during the procedure, as patients will unlikely be able to report any unusual sensation.

  • pain (neurology)
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • pain

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  • Contributors VTF contributed to project conception, research, writing and preparation of manuscript and submission. BB contributed to writing and preparation of the manuscript. JE contributed to project conception, writing, preparation and research for the manuscript. MCS contributed to project conception, writing and preparation of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Case reports provide a valuable learning resource for the scientific community and can indicate areas of interest for future research. They should not be used in isolation to guide treatment choices or public health policy.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.