Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that is usually performed with local anesthesia and mild sedation.
As with many spinal injections, radiofrequency neurotomy is best performed under fluoroscopy (live x-ray) for guidance in properly targeting and placing the needle (and for avoiding nerve or other injury).
An intravenous line is often started so that relaxation medicine (sedation) can be administered. You’ll be asked to lie on a procedure table and the skin over your neck, mid-back, or lower back will be well cleaned. Then, our physician will numb a small area of skin with an anesthetic.
Our physician will use fluoroscopy to direct a special (radiofrequency) needle alongside the medial or lateral branch nerves. A small amount of electrical current is often carefully passed through the needle to assure it is next to the target nerve and a safe distance from other nerves.
This current should briefly recreate the usual pain and cause a muscle twitch in the neck or back. The targeted nerves will then be numbed to minimize pain while the lesion is being created. The radiofrequency waves are introduced to heat the tip of the needle and a heat lesion is created on the nerve to disrupt the nerve’s ability to send pain signals. This process will be repeated for additional nerves.
The entire radiofrequency ablation procedure usually takes 30-90 minutes, and you’ll return home the same day.