Utilization of neurolysis in management of refractory head and neck cancer related pain in palliative patients: A retrospective review

Head and Neck Cancer
13/06/2020

Khawaja SN and Scrivani SJ. J Oral Pathol Med 2020.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Pain is a common symptom of head and neck cancers. In some instances pain may not resolve with conventional modalities and become refractory. Chemical neurolysis is a technique that utilizes chemical neurolytic agents to temporarily denervate a targeted nerve and provide relief in pain-related symptoms. The aim of this investigation was to determine the effectiveness, safety, and predictors of chemical neurolysis procedures for management of refractory head and neck cancer related pain.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review of patients who underwent chemical neurolysis procedure in the regions of head and neck for management of head and neck cancer related pain was conducted between November 2017 and November 2018. All adult male and female patients who had undergone chemical neurolysis procedure in the head and neck region for management of refractory head and neck related pain, in Orofacial Pain Clinic, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center were included in the investigation.

RESULTS: Among 33 participants enrolled, 72.7% of participants experienced 75% or greater relief in pain at the 1-month follow-up. However, 9.1% reported experiencing an adverse effect following neurolysis. A statistically significant association was found between neurolysis effectiveness and chronicity of pain.

CONCLUSIONS: Chemical neurolysis can provide significant relief to patients with refractory head and neck cancer related pain as an adjunctive therapy. However, it was found to be associated with mild risk of manageable adverse effects. Shorter chronicity of pain was found to be associated with successful outcome.