Radio Frequency Ablation/Rhizotomy
Radiofrequency ablation or lesioning is a term used when radio waves are used to produce heat to destroy tissue, usually a nerve. It has been used for several years with great success in patients who have abnormally fast heartbeats. More recently, it is being used to destroy tumors. It is a non-surgical option to treat your spine pain.
Spine pain is the second most frequent pain complaint. It occurs in 65 to 80 percent of the population at one time or another, and can be disabling and frightening. Its costs to society are great.
In the case of spinal pain, radiofrequency waves are transmitted through a needle placed into the facet joint under x-ray guidance. This procedure is also known as rhizotomy.
When Radiofrequency ablation procedure is to begin, an IV will be started. This will allow the use of medications to help sedate you. It is also important to have IV access for medications if you should have an allergic reaction during the procedure.
You should be awake for the procedure to help the doctor with correct placement of the electrode used for radiofrequency ablation. You will not be given a general anesthetic. The area to be treated will be cleaned and then numbed with a local anesthetic.
Using x-ray guidance, the doctor will place the needle in the proper facet joint. A microelectrode is then placed inside the needle. A small radiofrequency current is then sent to the medial branch nerve of the joint capsule for approximately 60 to 90 seconds. The procedure is done with sterile technique to minimize the risk of infection.
After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area. The nurses will monitor you and be sure you do not have an allergic reaction. You will be allowed to leave once you are stable.
Immediately following the procedure, you may have some relief of pain from the numbing medication used during the procedure.
You will not be able to drive or do any physical activity for 24 hours.
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