Open Access

The present role of percutaneous cervical cordotomy for the treatment of cancer pain

  • B. J. P. Crul1, 2Email author,
  • L. M. Blok2,
  • J. van Egmond2 and
  • R. T. M. van Dongen2
The Journal of Headache and Pain20056:145

DOI: 10.1007/s10194-005-0145-6

Received: 16 November 2004

Accepted: 9 December 2004

Published: 25 January 2005


The results obtained by percutaneous cervical cordotomy (PCC) were analysed in 43 terminally ill cancer patients treated in our institution from 1998 to 2001. We wished to determine whether there is still a place for PCC in the actual clinical situation with its wide choice of pain therapies. All patients had severe unilateral pain due to cancer, resistant to opioids and co–analgesics. Following PCC, mean pain intensity was reduced from Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) 7.2 to 1.1. At the end of life, pain had increased to NRS 2.9. Initially following PCC a good result (NRS<3) was obtained in 95% of patients. At the end of life, a good result was still present in 69% of patients. Mean duration of survival after the intervention was 118 days (2–1460). In general, complications were mild and mostly subsided within 3–4 days. There was one case of partial paresis of the ipsilateral leg. PCC remains a valuable treatment in patients with treatment–resistant cancer pain and still deserves a place in the treatment of terminal cancer patients with severe unilateral neuropathic or incidence pain.

Key words

Percutaneous cordotomy Cancer pain