Abbott Laboratories has seen the launch of the IonicRF Generator, which delivers a nonsurgical, minimally invasive treatment for the management of pain in the nervous system. The generator is a radiofrequency (RF) ablation device that uses heat to target specific nerves and block pain signals from reaching the brain.

The launch of Abbott's IonicRF Generator looks to help the estimated 50 million people in the U.S. currently living with chronic pain.

Jason Pope, of the Evolve Restorative Center, Santa Rosa, Calif., heralded the offering as being able to target pain in several discrete parts of the body. "Every patient is different and the source of [his or her] pain is unique, making it extremely important to have multiple options available, so treatment can be tailored to individual circumstances," Pope added.

Keith Boettiger, vice president, neuromodulation at Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott, noted that most individuals who are candidates for RF ablation have already tried other therapies, but without success. As a result, they want a solution that does not involve surgery or opioids.

RF ablation uses an electric current to heat a small area of nerve tissue to prevent it from sending pain signals. The company highlighted studies showing that pain relief following a single RF ablation treatment could last from six to 12 months.

One group of patients who could benefit are those who suffer from low back pain. Facet joint syndrome, often treated by RF ablation therapy, is estimated to account for 15% of these complaints. RF ablation has been used to treat such conditions as pain of the low back pain and sacroiliac joint that failed to resolve with conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, injections or medication.

Boettiger told BioWorld that the solution has already been launched in Europe, receiving the CE mark May 31. “We’ve received very positive feedback about the device, with many health care professionals praising its intuitiveness, ease of use and lightweight, compact form,” he explained

Boettiger confirmed that the U.S. launch is a nationwide one, adding that the company plans to bring the solution to Australia, Latin America and Asia.

“We do not have specific data on the amount of time it takes to complete the procedure with the Abbott IonicRF, but the treatment session is in line with a standard RF procedure, which typically takes between 15 and 45 minutes,” Boettiger replied when asked about how long a procedure takes, citing information from Mayfield Brain & Spine.

Last month, the company reported improvement with its medical devices and diagnostics in the third quarter, which featured wins in the areas of COVID-19, diabetes and structural heart.

Big names

There are some big players in the RF ablation for pain management space, including Boston Scientific Corp., which offers the G4 RF Generator. Meanwhile, Medtronic plc offers the Accurian platform, reporting that it had received FDA clearance in February 2019. Company management discussed the platform during January’s North American Neuromodulation Society Annual Meeting. Analyst Ben Weaver with Barclays asked about the launch and the potential opportunity in the RF ablation market.

Matt Thomas, vice president and general manager of pain stimulation, replied that the launch was going well. “It's beating our deal model. We were excited about the value that it brings to physicians,” he continued

Thomas added that the ablation market is growing well, with new innovations coming to market and clinical studies being conducted. The market should continue to grow in the short and long term, and the company was enthusiastic about Accurian’s prospects.