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Transcatheter Arterial Embolization for Tennis Elbow

The novel non-surgical treatment could help regain range of motion in those affected.

A PPM Brief

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a repetitive stress injury to the tendons and muscles around the elbow caused by playing sports like tennis and golf, typing, or knitting; it is also frequently seen in those working in carpentry, cooking, or on an assembly line. The injury impacts basic tasks and may affect both job performance and overall quality of life. While pain is the main symptom of this condition, chronic tennis elbow may lead to other complications such as a loss of grip or arm strength, limited mobility, and burning sensations on the outer portions of the arm.

According to data1 presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 2019 annual scientific meeting by researchers out of the Okuno Clinic in Tokyo, Japan, transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) may be beneficial in treating this condition. TAE is an image-guided, non-surgical treatment that decreases abnormal blood flow to the injured arm and thereby reduces inflammation and pain.

The novel non-surgical treatment could help regain range of motion in those affected. (Source: 123RF)

“Many [tennis elbow] patients turn to invasive major surgery after years of failed physical therapy and medication use,” said lead author Yuji Okuno, MD, PhD, founder of the Okuno Clinic, in a news release.2

According to researchers, the treatment only takes one hour and simply requires a needle hole to access the radial artery in the wrist, where a catheter is placed to embolize the inflamed blood vessels, preventing excessive blood flow to the affected area. “We were interested to see if this technique, already in use in other areas of the body, would be effective for this common, debilitating condition and help people immediately regain a range of motion,” Dr. Okuno said.2

The team conducted a prospective study of 52 patients with tennis elbow who had not found relief from other forms of treatment. The patients received TAE treatment between March 2013 and October 2017 and were followed for up to four years post-treatment. The researchers found statistically significant reductions in pain-rating scores (Quick Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand scores; VAS pain rating scores; Patient-rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation scores; and pain-free grip strength), as well as improvements in tendinosis and tear scores in 32 patients who followed up two years after treatment. No adverse events were observed and no patients experienced negative effects to surrounding bones, cartilage, or muscles.

Concluded the researchers: TAE for tennis elbow is safe, effective, and does not require physical therapy in combination with the treatment. 

Last updated on: April 15, 2019
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