Radio Frequency Ablation
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is a common and highly effective treatment for pain. With RFA, a heated needle tip is used to disrupt nerve conduction, which prevents transmission of pain signals and reduces discomfort in a painful area. RFA can be used in a variety of pain syndromes, especially in those that involve back pain and neck pain.
Radiofrequency allows the physician to precisely target an area of pain. This procedure has high efficacy as a pain treatment modality
Medial branch nerves are small nerve branches that communicate pain caused by the facet joints in the spine to the brain. Medial branch RFA is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that reduces cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), and lumbar (low back) pain by interrupting the nerve supply from painful facet joints.
Multiple RFA injections for medial branch blocks provide long-term pain relief, and the evidence for pain relief with radiofrequency neurotomy of cervical and lumbar medial branch nerves is moderate for short and long-term pain. This procedure can also be utilized for ablation of peripheral nerves, like the genicular nerves for knee pain.
Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy/Ablation
During this minimally invasive procedure, the physician uses an electric current to produce heat from radio waves to treat painful facet joints in your neck. This procedure is also called radiofrequency rhizotomy. This procedure may treat pain that does not respond to medications or to physical therapy.
Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation
Longer-term pain relief may be obtained by the radiofrequency ablation procedure. During this genicular nerve treatment, patients that responded well to the diagnostic nerve block undergo the ablation procedure, usually done under local anesthetic on an outpatient basis.
The needles are once again placed using fluoroscopic or ultrasound guidance for safety and accuracy. A cannula is guided as close as possible to the appropriate nerves, one at a time. Once in place, radiofrequency lesioning (ablation) involves inserting a microelectrode into the cannula so that an electrical current produced by a radio wave can heat up the tip of the needle. The hot tip of the needle then cauterizes a portion of the nerve transmitting pain signals, so it cannot send pain signals to the brain. The process is repeated for each nerve.
The pain relief from the genicular nerve ablation procedure can last from six months to one year, or even longer.
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