Question:I had a chronically dislocating shoulder that never responded to nonsurgical treatment. Then I had radiofrequency heat to shrink the shoulder capsule. Now I'm losing the cartilage in the same joint. Could this be caused by the heat treatment?
Answer:The procedure you had with radiofrequency to heat and shrink the shoulder capsule is called thermal capsulorrhaphy. Although it has become a popular treatment option, long-term studies are lacking.
Case studies of individual problems have been reported silimar to yours. Loss of cartilage throughout the joint can occur. It's thought that thermal energy is either more than expected or continues causing damage after it is stopped.
There's some concern that the probes used to deliver the heat aren't accurate. As a result, excessive heat is used causing cartilage cells to die. Other problems from this treatment have also been reported. Nerve damage and damage to the capsule can lead to recurrent shoulder instability.William J. Ciccone II, MD, et al. Glenohumeral Chondrolysis Following Thermal Capsulorrhaphy. In Orthopedics. February 2007. Vol. 30. No. 2. Pp. 158-160.
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