“Cooled radio frequency ablation” is a new non-surgical knee procedure that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not for everybody, but this option is for people who cannot have surgery or are not yet ready to have a knee replacement. The marketing name is “Coolief” and it eases pain rather than repairs arthritis in the knee. According to Dr. Amin Sandeep, “what we’re changing is the wiring of the knee, so we’re taking away the pain signal and interrupting it.” Dr. Sandeep is a pain specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago who performs this procedure. Coolief is compared to cortisone injections and reduces pain for about 6 to 12 months, depending on how fast the nerves in the knee regenerate. The outpatient procedure takes about 40 minutes using local anesthesia. No incision is required as radio frequency waves are emitted into the knee. The result can be instant. Pain centers across the country are now beginning to offer the procedure since it was just approved by the FDA in April of 2017. The cost of the treatment varies between $2,000 and $4,000. Possible risks to this non-surgical knee procedure include bleeding and infection. Recovery time in minimal and most patients walk immediately after the procedure, resuming normal activities within a day or two.
The progression of osteoarthritis is not stopped, however, Coolief can be repeated. The non-surgical knee procedure can only delay total knee replacement which may still eventually be necessary in many patients, according to Dr. Dennis Cardone, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center.
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