WHAT IS A RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION
Also called a radiofrequency rhizotomy, this injection procedure is performed to relieve pain in the spinal facets. This quick, minimally invasive procedure is usually performed with local anesthetic and sedation.
STEP 1: A hollow needle called a cannula is inserted and positioned near the targeted medical branch nerve. Fluoroscopic x-ray pictures are used to ensure proper position of the cannula.
STEP 2: A radiofrequency electrode is inserted through the cannula and small amounts of electricity stimulate the area around the nerve.
STEP 3: To burn the nerve, the surgeon sends very high frequency electricity through the electrode to heat the nerve for 90 seconds. Once one ablation is done, the surgeon may also repeat the procedure on other nerves if needed.
WHAT CAN TO EXPECT AFTER A RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION
Following the procedure, patients can expect to have soreness around the treatment sites. Soreness lasts typically about a week but full relief from pain is usually felt within 2-3 weeks. Successful ablations relieve pain significantly longer than epidural steroid or facet injections.
The day of the procedure apply a cool pack to the injection site for 15 minutes every hour while awake. You can continue this until soreness resolves. Please remove the band-aids placed after the procedure within 2-3 hours after the procedure. You may restart therapy 3 days after the procedure.
Return to Work
You may return to work the following day.
Return to Clinic for Evaluation After
It is very important to follow up within 2-3 weeks for further evaluation following the procedure