The Vault

Radiofrequency Ablation: Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive technique that can have dramatic results in the right patient. If you have undergone successful initial and confirmatory medial branch blocks for facet disease, than you are a candidate for Radiofrequency ablation.

You will have an IV started and mild sedation is given. The area is sterilely prepped and we gently place a radiofrequency probe on the bony area of the facet, which contains the medial branch. We then do sensory and motor testing by attaching the probe to a radiofrequency generator. Sensory testing will cause you to feel the same pain you normally do by stimulating the nerve. Motor testing will cause the small muscles on the joint to gently move the needle up and down. We should not see your arm or leg move. This would indicate misplacement of the needle and proper adjustments will take place. Needle placement is also confirmed with a live X ray machine throughout the procedure.

Local anesthetic is given through the probe and a thermal lesion the size of a q-tip occurs over ninety seconds. It should not be painful and we will be monitoring your throughout the procedure. Steroid is given in the needle at the end to minimize inflammation and pain after the procedure.

Patients will notice some soreness for the first couple of days since we have caused a thermal lesion. Rarely patients experience a neuritis, or irritation of the nerve that can last up to a week. Most patients tolerate the procedure quite well.

As with other tissue in the body, these nerves will regenerate.

Patients can expect 6 months to 6 years of long-term relief depending on the severity of your condition.

This procedure has revolutionized spine care and can provide lasting relief without the need for surgery.