Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), also referred to as rhizotomy or neurectomy, is performed with a special needle that uses thermal energy to create a small lesion on the nerve that transmits pain signals. This can result in longer-lasting pain relief usually between 8 to 12 months. Before the ablation, a diagnostic block must be performed using local anesthetic to identify the pain generator.
RFA is a treatment option for many different conditions including neck pain, back pain, spondylolysis, sacroiliitis, knee pain, and occipital neuralgia.
RFA can be done under local anesthetic or with sedation by an anesthesiologist. The physician will sterilize the area and numb the skin with local anesthetic. Using fluoroscopy (or x-ray guidance), the needles are inserted into the targeted area. Once the needles are correctly positioned, local anesthetic is injected to help numb the region. The probes are then inserted into the needles, and radio waves are transmitted. Corticosteroid is injected through the needles when the ablation is complete. The procedure typically takes 10-20 minutes.
Some medications may need to be stopped several days before the procedure. Our office will provide this information to you prior to your appointment.
If you think you may be a candidate for a rhizotomy, please call our office to schedule an appointment.