New study aimed at diminishing phantom pain suffered by amputees

By Mary Beth Spence | Woodruff Health Sciences Center | April 28, 2015

Verdell Dukes, one of the first patients to complete the cryoablation therapy at Emory Saint Joseph's, describes her experience with phantom limb pain and the results of the new treatment.

A new clinical trial conducted by Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital interventional radiologist J. David Prologo, MD is studying a minimally invasive investigational treatment known as cryoablation therapy, hoped to help relieve symptoms in amputees with residual and phantom limb pain.

As the principal investigator of the study, Prologo is using CT imaging guidance to place a probe near the nerve responsible for the residual phantom pain.

Once the probe is precisely placed, the temperature is dropped for 25 minutes to create an ablation zone, and the signals the nerve was previously carrying are shut down. The outpatient procedure takes approximately one hour, and some patients have reported significantly decreased pain and improved function.

Norma Jean Robinson, one of the first patients to complete the cryoablation therapy at Emory Saint Joseph's, has seen her pain drop to a minimum after the amputation of her leg six months ago.

"On a scale of one to 10, my pain had reached the highest level — a 10," she says. "Having this procedure has dramatically changed the quality of my life.”

For more information about this study, contact the Emory University School of Medicine, Division of Interventional Radiology and Image Guided Medicine at 404-509-9132, 404-520-3233 or john.david.prologo@emory.edu.