What is Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency nerve ablation is the term used when radio waves are generated to ablate the nerve. The heat essentially destroys the nerve eliminating its ability to transmit pain signals.
What do I do prior to the procedure?
You should allow approximately 1 to 2 hours for the procedure. You will need to arrange a driver to take you home after the procedure
What nerve is ablated?
Radiofrequency ablation is used to destroy the median nerves that supply the facet joints in the spine. There are two for each facet joint. These joints are the small posterior joints on either side of the spine. These joints can be one source of back pain.
1st Day Trial One: Sensorcaine:
The patient will come in and the radiologist will inject sensorcaine into the indicated area. The patient will relax in our recovery room for 20-30 minutes. The patients pain relief on a scale of 1 to 10 is documented. The patients then scheduled for a second injection of lidocaine on a separate day. The patient logs thee level of relief/duration.
2nd Day Trial Two: Lidocaine:
The radiologist injects the patient with lidocaine in the area of concern. The patient rests for 20-30 minutes in our recovery room and the degree of pain relief is documented. If the patient receives significant relief from both the injections they are a candidate for radio frequency ablation with 85% likelihood for success. If relief with one or the other trial there is a 50% likelihood for success.
The technique used for the nerve ablation is similar to that used for the diagnostic blocks. A thin needle is inserted down to the region of the facet joint, which is responsible for the pain. Each joint has two nerves, which supply the joint therefore, 2 needle positions for each joint will be needed. As during the trials, the placement of the needle will be under fluoroscopic guidance. Once the needle is in place you will receive a numbing medication and the radiofrequency stimulation will occur through the needle already in place. This takes approximately 90 seconds. X 2 for each needle. This will be repeated at each needle site. The needle will be removed and the procedure is complete.